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Loire Valley
page 2  Adele Rouze Quincy, Henri Bourgeois,  Pichot Vouvray

ADÈLE ROUZÉ
We're always interested in finding new and interesting Sauvignon Blanc wines.

The appellation of Quincy (it's pronounced Can-See, not Kwin-see) is not very well known to most wine drinkers.  Even French people have little experience with Quincy wines, since those of nearby Sancerre tend to dominate wine lists in the Sauvignon "section."

But Quincy has a very long history, being the first area to gain appellation status in the Centre-Loire way back in 1936.  There are even references to Quincy and its wine  as far back as the year 1120, well before the world had Robert Parker to tell it what wines to drink!


Young Adèle Rouzé's father is one of the leading lights of the appellation.  Adèle now has about one hectare's worth of vines to work with when she's not doing her "day job" as a certified agricultural appraiser.

The photo above shows Adèle standing in front of her one 'tank' of wine and she's smiling because the notion of sending some bottles half-way around the world to be consumed by savvy, wine-drinking San Franciscans is almost a fantasy.


But in reality, we now have our tenth vintage of her terrific Quincy.  The appellation, by the way, is devoted solely to Sauvignon.

 


 
The 2014 vintage is the current offering.  We like its crisp character and unmistakable Sauvignon fragrances and flavors. It has a nicely intense Sauvignon aroma.   The wine is at home with oysters, fresh crab, a salad with goat cheese, etc.  When you make one hectare's worth of wine, you can make it the way you like, not having to worry about "marketing" and the like.  As a result, this is not a wine appealing to those who prefer oak or residual sugar. 

Sorry...this is for adults.
 

Currently in stock:  2014 QUINCY $16.99



Adele in the winter of 2008...



Adele in the Spring of 2011


DOMAINE DE REUILLY

Denis Jamain is "Monsieur Reuilly" to us, the owner and winemaker of the benchmark wines from  this somewhat obscure Loire Valley appellation.

Reuilly is due south of Orleans and south-west of Sancerre, Pouilly Fume and Menetou Salon.

The soil is limestone and you really get a stony/minerally quality of the Sauvignon Blanc grown there.  We find an almost salty note to the wine and it's stone, bone dry. 

If you're a fan of cured or smoked salmon, this is a terrific match.  But fresh crab pairs well, as do prawns, scallops and white fish.

Another interesting wine made by Jamain is Pinot Gris.  He gives the wine a bit of skin contact and produces a light pink wine that we refer to as "good orange wine."  In an era when some producers make orange-colored wines which are oxidized or worse, this is fresh, nicely fruity and rather dry without being too austere.

 

Currently in stock:  2014 DOMAINE DE REUILLY "REUILLY BLANC"  $19.99
2014 DOMAINE DE REUILLY "PINOT GRIS"  $19.99

 

MASSON BLONDELET

The Masson and Blondelet families have long histories in the Loire Valley and this domaine was founded in 1975, the same year Michelle Blondelet and Jean-Michel Masson were married.

His family has long held vineyards in the Pouilly-Fumé appellation and her family contributed a small parcel of Sauvignon Blanc vines in the Sancerre area.

We've known their wines for many years...they've been brought into the market by different importers and the wines always seemed, frankly, a bit more expensive than they should have been.

With the 2014 vintage the wine comes from one of our favorite importers who have a sensible and economical pricing policy.  

We selected the 2014 Sancerre as it's a classic example of Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  It comes from "Portlandian" soils if you're keeping track of such details.  Most wine drinkers don't really care, but these days vintners and marketing people find it important to impart this minutiae.  

The family was early on the bandwagon for employing organic cultivation in the vineyards.  They've not used chemical fertilizers since the early 1980s and no weed killers or insecticides are employed.

The main thing is the wine displays a slightly flinty, stony character and a lightly citrusy quality.  No oak.  No sugar.  No foolin'.

And, as noted earlier, the importer allows this to reach the consumer for a most honest price.

Currently in Stock:  MASSON-BLONDELET 2014 SANCERRE Blanc $19.99

 

 

DOMAINE DE BEAUSEJOUR

This is a modest little estate owned by the Chauveau family.  The property was first purchased in 1951 by a doctor named Chauveau.   His son Gerard, who was an architect, took over the estate in 1968 and decided to take the plunge and plant a few grape vines.

Today the estate comprises about 93 hectares, but only 27 are devoted to vineyards.  They make a fair bit of wine, all of it made of Cabernet Franc.  Some wine is sold in bulk and they bottle the equivalent of about 10,000 cases.

This wine is not one intended for wine geeks or collectors.  It's not a trophy wine and it's not going to knock your socks off.  I doubt the Chauveau's intend to make such wines.

Instead, this is the sort of classic, old-fashioned, old-school, typical bottle of Chinon that is served in French restaurants around the world.  It's a wine which transports me back to Paris and it's nothing hugely compelling.  It's merely well-made and typical.  

I find the Cabernet Franc aromas to be reminiscent of red fruits and there's a faint suggestion of a woodsy, smoky note without the wine being overtly oaky.

It's medium bodied, not heavy, but not watery.  We suggest serving this at cool cellar temperature and you can pair it with lighter fare:  roasted chicken, roasted pork, mild beef or lamb...rabbit?  It's a fairly versatile wine and it's affordably-priced since it doesn't get 95 point scores.

It does get a thumbs up from us, however.
 

Currently in stock:  DOMAINE DE BEAUSEJOUR 2012 CHINON $16.99


Chinon cameras do not run on Chinon wine.

 



DOMAINE DE LA FONTAINERIE


This 6 hectare Vouvray domaine started in about 1712 and was taken over in 1990 by Catherine Dhoye-Deruet.  She produces about 25,000 bottles of wine annually, making dry, off-dry, sweet and sparkling wines.






 

The vineyard property features chalky slopes in the Valle Coquette.  

Sparkling Vouvray is certainly known in the Loire Valley, but outside the region, few people have ever tasted such a wine.  Catherine makes a non-vintaged bottling as well as a vintage-dated wine.  We find many wines of Vouvray to have a fragrance reminiscent of dried mushrooms.  The sparkling wine here displays that aroma when first opened, for example.
Yet as the wine airs, this blows off.  Please don't judge it based on the first sniff!  (I should note that a Champagne winemaker told us he liked to decant his young sparkling wines...he felt the oxygenation helped open up the wine.  After enjoying Fontainerie's bubbly, I have to say I agree that giving the wine some air is a good idea!)
As the sparkling wine from this region is not thought to be the equal of Champagne, it remains a price-worthy alternative to its famous cousin.  Twelve dollars and change will get you a bottle of Fontainerie's Brut Sparkler from the 1997 vintage.
 
 
 
 


Samples for INAO, the French Bureaucracy.



Samples for Wine-Tasting Customers.



We tasted many wines on our visit.



Lunch with Vouvray.
The "Rillettes" (in the little 'tub') from the artisan charcutier "Hardouin" are even prepared with Vouvray!  Needless to say, the combination is quite good!
 


The 2007 Vouvray Sec is a nice example of Chenin Blanc from the Loire vinified in a dry style.  Mildly fruity on the nose but with an "edge" to it.

Currently in stock:  
2007 Vouvray Sec  Sold Out





 


 

 



 



CHÂTEAU de SURONDE

Once owned by a guy whose college training was as a language interpreter, this family used to own about a half the appellation of Quarts-de-Chaume at one time.  

We visited the property in March of 2002 and found an amazing cellar and vineyard.  Organic farming. In fact, winemaker/wine grower Francis Poirel does biologique farming.   Tiny yields, as he makes just 5,000 to 10,000 bottles annually from his 7.5 hectares.  Amazing wines.

This is one of those "serious" winemakers who understands how to coax the best from the vineyards and how to capture that special quality in the bottle.
Poirel makes wonderfully expressive, soulful wines.


When we visited him we tasted a terrific dry white wine which he explained could "only" be designated as a Vin de Table.  That's because the Appellation Contrôllée laws required the wine be fermented with a commercial yeast, not the wild yeast that's part of the grape skins!  I can't quite recall precisely the rest of the silly, appallingly lame requirements, but the fruit was harvested too ripe and did not require Francis add sugar to the juice. This was another strike against the wine from the legal standpoint, but a positive factor from a wine quality perspective.





His 2002 Quarts-de-Chaume is a delicious Chenin Blanc.  One of those wines which displays this magnificent and relatively unheralded grape.  It's got lots of honeyed notes and yet retains a fine 'edge' of minerality and acidity.

We had a bottle of an earlier vintage with Bob's sautéed foie gras...
Quarts-de-Chaume

It was a magnificent combination!!!
 
 
Currently available: 
 2002 Quarts-de-Chaume  $64.99  (750ml)




 

 
HENRI BOURGEOIS
I've sensed from my few visits to the Sancerre area that this firm is highly respected by the smaller, independent growers in the area.  While there are a number of fairly large firms doing business in this part of the Loire, none is as highly regarded as Bourgeois.  And if you taste their wines, you'll understand they do strive for a quality product.  


Plus Monsieur Bourgeois travels the world, playing the role of an ambassador for Loire Valley wines.  The last time we saw him here in California, his pockets were full of rocks!  He wanted to show everyone the sort of terrain his wines come from!



        
The various soils in the Sancerre region.


Located in the famous village of Chavignol, they have a modest-sized facility towards the top of the hill.  They bottle quite a range of wines, featuring a number of bottlings of Sancerre.  



 
We have their La Côtes de Monts Damnés from the 2012 vintage.  This is a rather steep site and it's a highly-regarded vineyard in the town of Chavignol.  The soil is Kimmeridigian Marl which means there's clay and fossilized sea shells.  The vines are now somewhere between 35 and 45 years of age and yields are modest, translating into somewhat greater intensity.

Seafood is an especially good pairing for this.  Dungeness Crab is ideal, but sea scallops, prawns or even a lemon-scented chicken work well with this.
 

 
We also have found their entry-level Loire Valley Sauvignon to be quite good.  It's from vineyards near Touraine and we've described it as being a "baby Sancerre."  Maybe more like an "adolescent Sancerre" is a better description.  It's mildly aromatic and fresh, with a touch of herbal Sauvignon on the nose.  You'll find it to be dry and moderately crisp.  And, best of all, it's well-priced.  $12.99 (with case discounts!).





Currently in stock:  2012 HENRI BOURGEOIS SANCERRE "Le Bourgeoise" Sold Out
2014 HENRI BOURGEOIS "Petit Bourgeois" Sauvignon Blanc  $12.99











DOMAINE PICHOT

This is a father and son enterprise, with son Christophe owning the Le Peu de la Moriette property and dad taking care of the Coteau de la Biche.  Together there are about 27 hectares of vines.

Typically the "Le Peu de la Moriette" label features wines of some level of residual sugar, while the Coteau de la Biche wines are in the dry to demi-sec range.  

A number of producers of Chenin Blanc wines in the Loire take pride in the ability of their wines to cellar well.  We visited a fellow who makes a small amount of Chenin for his own amusement and he showed us a bottle of a fifty year old wine which tasted far younger than it was.  

The Pichot's make a range of wines, but it's their "Moelleux" wine we've had in the shop the past few years.  A relatively unknown wine, we were distressed to see a favorable review of this wine in The Wine Spectator.  Never mind that few wine drinkers are interested in sweet Chenin Blanc, but those fixated on numerical scores stampede when some journal raves about a wine.  It's some sort of religious thing, apparently.

The 2003 is quite good.  Still a bit young, but very nice.  The acidity balances the sweetness.  The fragrance is rather typical of many Vouvray wines and it's not a bright, fruity character but has a note which reminds me of many of the underground chalk cellars in the region.  If you don't mind this "earthy" tone to the wine, you might enjoy trying a bottle.

The 2014 is much like its predecessors...there's ample acidity to balance the sweetness, so the wine is quite good as both an aperitif and a 'table wine.'  It's delicious now and should remain in fine shape for two or three years.  Bright melon and a tangy, citrusy tone are the themes of this Vouvray.  Good wine and good value.
 
Currently in stock:  2003 Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette Vouvray "Moelleux"  $23.99
2014 Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette Vouvray  $15.99

 



DOMAINE DE LA PETITE MARIE

This little domaine is run by the Petit family.  James Petit has vineyard holdings in several sites within the Bourgueil appellation and his uncle, Jean Gambier, was the head of the local grape growers' group.

We favor their Les Galluches bottling of Cabernet Franc...the wine is a blend of a few different sites which have sandy soils and produce nicely aromatic wine.  It is matured briefly in large wood tanks and then goes into cement vats until bottling.  This is a medium-bodied Cabernet Franc, pretty much what you expect of Loire Valley red wine (not a blockbuster, buster).  The fragrances are mildly herbal, with some cassis-like notes.  

We enjoy serving this at cool cellar temperature and it pairs well with chicken, pork and mildly-seasoned red meats.
 

Currently in stock:  2010 DOMAINE DE LA PETITE MARIE BOURGUEIL "Cuvee les Galluches"  Sold Out Presently

 


DOMAINE WILFRED ROUSSE  (La Halbardiere)

Wilfrid Rousse has built up a nice little domaine in Chinon, having started in 1987 with a mere one hectare parcel.  Today he cultivates 19.5 hectares of vineyards and the domaine is certified as being famed biodynamically.

They're located about a 45 minute drive west of Tours (add another 15 minutes if you're in Vouvray or Montlouis), while

Nineteen of those hectares are devoted to Cabernet Franc, but Rousse also farms a half hectare plot of Chenin Blanc.

The symbol of the domaine is a weathervane featuring a mermaid holding a fish.   A nearby chateau was once owned by a prominent admiral and governor and the weathervane of this mermaid adorned the house.  He was said to have hosted all sorts of prominent dignitaries, including King Charles VII.  
 

The domaine is a partnership between Wilfrid Rousse and his wife Annie.  He's up to his elbows in grapevines and in the cellar and she handles administrative and marketing issues.

We tasted a couple of good wines from this property.  

The 2014 Les Galuches Chinon is a nice example of Cabernet Franc.  It's a medium bodied red wine, bigger than a Beaujolais or Pinot Noir, but a bit lighter than a Cabernet or Merlot.  It's not intended to be a big bruiser, but instead a more gentle sort of red wine.  It's dry and there's a faintly smoky tone in the background with nice red fruit up front.  
Serving it with roasted chicken, a savory pork roast, sausages, mild lamb or beef dishes, etc.  Cool cellar temp will show it off nicely.

 

Our other pick from this property is a 2013 Rosé.  It's a saignée of Cabernet Franc.  The juice spends about 12 to 24 hours on the skins, depending upon the vintage.  We like the raspberry/strawberry like aromas and the wine is nicely dry and crisp.  It's a beautiful cocktail wine and can pair well with seafood, salads, etc.


Currently in stock:  2013 WILFRID ROUSSE CHINON ROSÉ Sold Out
2014 WILFRID ROUSSE CHINON ROUGE  $17.99


 
 


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