Friday, July 9, 2010

Tour de France Stage Six: The Eastern Loire

Stage Six on Friday July 9th (happy birthday Wo!) continues to the south between the Yonne and Loire rivers, passing the famed wine villages of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume that lie just a scant few kilometers to the west. Like yesterday, we are still in the Kimmerdgian belt with a mix of Limestone and Flintstone soils and a continental climate making up the character of these excellent Sauvignon Blanc based wines. This is a grape with personality, and some might even say attitude. Pungent, grassy, herbacious are all in play, as is one of my all time back handed wine compliments "cat's pee on a gooseberry bush" - really! It can cover the range (forgive the generalizations) from crisp, mineral and focused in its delivery (think Loire Valley), to tropical and citrus-like (Chile and especially New Zealand), to rich and layered (Graves and California), and on to ripe, unctuous and potentially super sweet (Sauternes/Barsac). In the Eastern Loire it leans towards the focused, mineral and racy side, making some of the best examples of the grape in the dry style anywhere in the world. What is less well known is that in the appellation of Sancerre there is a small amount of Pinot Noir planted making absolutely lovely rose and some pretty interesting red wines as well. Below is a list of just a few of my favorites from these two villages - click on any of the wines below to purchase. For a full list of all of our Loire Valley wines currently in stock visit us at 56 Degree Wine and be sure to watch the race on the Versus Channel and web site. The tour ends the day in the southern end of Burgundy not far from the Cotes Chalonnais, the Macon and the famous region for beef near Charolle - maybe a little red Burgundy, steak on the grille, une petite salade, and some frites for the next stage? Enjoy!

2007 Dagueneau Pouilly Fume "Silex" -  Known for wines that are the pinnacle of the heights Pouilly Fume can attain, Didier Dagueneau may have been the main force behind the world wide recognition of the region as a truly world class AOC. Unfortunately Didier has passed on but his wines remain a tribute to him. He was a rebel, one who openly chastised other producers in the region who over crop their vines. He even went as far as sending a bill for the workers who hand-harvested the fruit to prove he was indeed "authentic". His organic and biodynamically run vineyards are employed for only one purpose, to make the absolute best wine possible without compromise. The 2007 Silex is a "tour de force" of Sauvignon with plenty of plush pineapple tones, guava, melon, honeysuckle and amazing length. I doubt you can resist it but this should get better with five to eight years of age. $150/bottle

2008 Florian Mollet Pouilly Fume "Tradition", Loire - The entry level Pouilly Fume from Mollet trumps most vineyard designates from other producers. Light and crisp with fresh grapefruit notes, hints of gooseberry and stony resolve, this is seafood-perfect wine with wonderful acidity. $19 - excellent value!!

2007 Florian Mollet Sancerre Rouge "Classique", Loire - Wonderfully fragrant and specific to its terroir, this 100% Pinot Noir offering from the gregarious Florian Mollet, is a spot on wine. Red cherries, earth and pretty floral tones lead way to an attractive red with fine acidity. Refreshing and best served with just a slight chill to it with anything from the sea, roasted chicken or salmon. $25

2009 Domaine Carrou Sancerre Rose - This is a lovely fresh Rose, pale salmon hued, 100% Pinot Noir with a hint of raspberry and cherry. Great all on its own, with salads, light fish dishes - extremely versatile, refreshing and perfect warm summer day wine! $25

2007 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Les Romains - This might even rival the Dagueneau for one of my favorite Sauvignon Blanc wines ever! Super minerality, racy and laser focused, it is from six blocks of massal selection 40 year old vines on 100% flintstone soils. Other cuvees here are a blend of limestone and flintstone, toning down the sheer intensity. But here they go all out, showing restrained power found in these parcels. Like a lightning bolt - electric! We tasted them back to 1999, and guess what - they get better and better with age as the sheer tension they posses begins to ease and develop all of the locked up complexity beneath. All organic and biodynamic.  $62 

2008 Serge Laporte Sancerre Chavignol - This classic Sancerre is from vineyard around the village of Chavignol, in the heart of Sancerre and known as well for its goat cheeses as it is for the wines - a perfect match by the way! Solid fairy rich Sauvignon fruit underpinned with lovely racy acidity make this a perfect summer white. $28

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