Loire Valley Wines
It’s simple to explain why the Loire Valley is one of my absolute favorite wine regions. I simply can’t think of any other place where you can find so much diversity in terms of grape varieties, alongside such excellent value and a high proportion of small-scale winemakers devoted to farming organically. From the crisp, floral whites of Muscadet and Sancerre to the fuller-bodied Chenin Blancs to the fresh, light reds of the Loire Valley, you’ve got an incredible range to explore. Being such a large region, there is a lot to take in—some very famous appellations as well as lesser-known but still exciting ones, and an always expanding list of excellent winemakers.
The Loire Valley begins not too far west of Paris, and extends all the way to the Atlantic. Once you start exploring the Loire Valley, you’ll be thrilled at the food-friendly nature of its wines, the modest price tags on most bottles, and the constant discovery of producers.
Saturday, Nov 2nd
[Parking In Back]
2018 Domaine Michel Vattan
Sancerre Cuvée Calcaire
Owned by the Vattan family, the estate was founded by Roger and Andrée, his wife, then transmitted to their son, Michel. In 2008, Pascal Joulin, who had been working here since 2002, and his wife, Nathalie, took over the estate from Michel.
Today, the estate consists of 7.8 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and 1.3 hectares of Pinot Noir divided between 2 principal types of terroir, caillottes and terres blanches, which benefit from southern and north-western exposure respectively and are typical of Maimbray’s hillsides.
Wine Enthusiast 93 Points: This small production wine has a crisp crackly character with great fruitiness, as well as a tight mineral texture from the chalk soil. Its citrus and herbal flavor is balanced with taut acidity. The wine, one of two from this producer reflecting different soil types.
2018 Domaine Huet
Clos Du Bourg Vouvray
Since its founding in 1928, Vouvray’s Domaine Huet has been the standard-bearer for great, age-worthy Chenin Blanc. And to this day, year after year, the estate produces some of the world’s most compelling white wines—and in a remarkable range that spans sparkling, dry, semi-dry, and breathtaking dessert styles.
Gaston Huët believed this to be the greatest of all Vouvray vineyards. With the Première Côte’s shallowest, stoniest soils, its wines often synthesize Le Mont’s intense minerality with Le Haut-Lieu’s generous texture. Clos du Bourg is often the richest and most powerful wine in the lineup.
Wine Advocate 93 Points: The 2018 Vouvray Clos du Bourg Sec is the only dry Chenin produced at Huet that year. Tasted in May 2019, the Clos du Bourg opens with a delicate nose of white fruit and mirabelle plums, along with chalky and very fine sur-lie notes. The palate is intense, round and fruity but filigreed in its structure and persistent in its mineral grip and stimulating salinity. The yeasty texture gives this 13.5% alcohol Chenin a fine structure and mouthfeel. It’s charming and pleasant to drink even young.
2017 Domaine Courtault-Tardieux Tradition
As a teenager, Simon Tardieux began working in the vines of Catherine Roussel and Didier Barrouillet at Clos Roche Blanche. After university and a short stint as a social worker, he decided to return to Thésée and work outside in the vines. He teamed up with his neighbor Alain Courtault and together formed their domaine Courtault-Tardieux. The domaine has a total of 15 hectares of which they farm Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Côt. All harvesting is done by hand and all vineyard work is organic. In the cellar, Simon has a very light hand as he aims to bottle his wines expressing their terroir at its purest. He uses only natural yeast and sulfur at bottling. No oak is used.
Winemaker Notes: The Touraine Tradition is a blend of 50% Gamay and 50% Côt (Malbec) from 35 year old vines grown on clay-limestone and white clay-slate soils. The wine is fermented using natural yeasts and aged in tank. Courtault-Tardieux’s Tradition is light in body and thirst quenching with fresh, bright red fruits, soft tannins and a refreshing acidity. This is an excellent table wine, perfect to have on hand for whatever may grace your dinner plate or just to open and enjoy on its own.
Anjou Mozaik Cabernet Franc
Jo and Isabelle Pithon established a wine merchant business in 2000 with a mission to create high-quality wines from local varietals Chenin and Cabernet Franc. Certified organic, their Mozaik cuvee is made with vines aged 20 to 30 years on average. The wine itself is aged 10 months in barrels and further aged 2 to 6 years in bottle before reaching shelves.
Winemaker Notes: Purplish red in color, this red boasts a medium nose exuding fruity, mineral and vegetal aromas. Discover this medium-bodied wine expressing lively acidity and offering a broad texture and firm tannins. It also unveils a medium mouthfeel that leads into a medium finish.
2014 Olga Raffault
Les Picasses Chinon
Domaine Olga Raffault is unquestionably one of the long-time reference points for top-quality, traditional Chinon wines. Its history is intriguing. Olga and her husband Pierre operated the estate together until he died unexpectedly just before harvest in 1947. Alone with two small children, Olga was left to run the business but was ably assisted for the vintage by employee Ernest Zenninger, a German prisoner who had found refuge and work at Raffault at the end of the war. Ernest stayed on, becoming the winemaker and working closely with Olga’s son Jean Raffault. The two of them ran the estate as a team for decades, under Olga’s watchful eye, until Jean’s daughter Sylvie and her husband Eric de la Vigerie took over about 10 years ago.
Vinous 94 Points: Made from fifty-plus year-old vines in the heart of this excellent vineyard, is outstanding in 2014. This is always a cuvée built for the cellar and the 2014 vintage is no exception. The bouquet is pure and promising, offering up scents of red and dark berries, cigar smoke, a complex base of soil tones, a touch of tree bark, a hint of meatiness and a topnote of menthol. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very transparent in personality, with a rock solid core of fruit, ripe, chewy tannins, good focus and grip and a long, nascently complex and beautifully soil-driven finish. This is outstanding juice in the making!