All posts filed under: Loire

Loire Moments at the London Edition Hotel for London Wine Week 2017

Heeding a call for “Loire Moments” during London Wine Week, I left my ordinary world of peak-hour crush on the Underground, horizontal rain and broken umbrella to find myself in the foyer of the London EDITION hotel, 10 Berners Street, with a glass of sparkling Monmousseau Touraine Brut in my hand.  Our exquisite hosts, Douglas Blyde and Lindsay Oram, had created a menu matched with six wines from along the Loire River, with four-courses cooked by Chef Phil Carmichael from Jason Atherton’s upstairs Berners Tavern. Even saying the word, Monmousseau, puts my mouth into a kissy kiss pout and silly voice that I find happens to me when I’m around the super cute. A baby swaddled in a blanket disguised as a burrito or watching a labrador puppy try to go down a staircase for the first time. That’s about all I can watch nowadays, by the way, after recent horrific events – in fact, my year can be summed up by the bleak New Yorker cartoon, “my desire to be well-informed is at odds with my desire to …

3 terroirs in Saumur-Champigny you need to know

As the boat drifted away from the town of Saumur on a summer night, and I was drifting away in my thoughts at the end of the day (and, perhaps, from one too many glasses of red), I thought about the knotty notion of terroir. When does wine become more than just about thirst? The Loire is a vast collection of different terroirs following the Loire River from the centre of France to the Atlantic. We were in Saumur-Champigny AOC, in the centre of the Loire region. South-east of Angers, on the left bank of the river, and east of Coteaux du Layon and Anjou. The boat drifted to the point in the river where the Saumur region ended and where Touraine began. A winemaker pointed to the old stone stairs on the river bank. The stairs were divided down the middle. Although they joked about it, saying one side was for the people in Saumur and one was for Touraine – there were clearly still some healthy rivalries between the neighbours. The line where one region started and another ended was clear in the …

Les Grands Tablées du Saumur-Champigny 2015

Right now I am in Saumur for a two-day festival called Les Grands Tablées du Saumur-Champigny. Last time I was in Saumur, the constant rain kiboshed our plans to ride bicycles through the vineyards. That was the dream, anyway: a little exercise to go with the wine drinking. We did try. But the rain put a stop it – worst luck – and we ended up staying inside the local restaurants instead, drinking the 2014 vintage and tasting the local cheeses. Now I developed a serious taste for this refreshing red that is – pound for pound – one of the most versatile red wines out there, I am happy to be back in Saumur again to finally meet the winemakers and see the vineyards. The 2014 vintage is an exciting moment for Cabernet Franc in Saumur-Champigny. It’s worth celebrating, especially if it is pouring all night long. This year the event had a British theme (there were a lot of “British” bowler hats, which only made me look like droog A Clockwork Orange. Or maybe Mel and Kim). Was it just a gimmick? There is a deep connection with Britain in the area – this is …

What’s not to love about 2014 Loire wines

Wines from the Loire are not for everybody. Except for the super-refreshing sparkling wine, made in the same way as Champagne, that starts every meal we had on the long weekend staying in Saumur. Or the bright pink Pinot d’Aunis rosé everybody in town seemed to be drinking, from flat-capped pensioner to gangly teenagers, in the local pub off the busy Saturday morning market. Not everyone would think of a Saumur-Champigny red with a sirloin steak like they did at the local Argentine restaurant – it’s an elegant crisp red rather than the usual full-blown Malbec. That’s a shame because the wines are packed full of fruit, especially the reds. Loire wines seem to be polarised between the natural wine crowd who love to fetishise grapes (fair enough) and the rest who have to wade through a lot of bottles, but when finding the bottle, re-confirms its classic status. There is a lot to love about the 2014 vintage. The constant rain over the long weekend meant our original plan to cycle along the Loire river had to be cancelled. Instead, we visited an excellent local …

Cabernet by Stealth: Chinon, by Alliet

The 2006 Chinon Vieilles Vignes from Phillipe Alliet may start out as a typical 100% Cabernet Franc from Chinon: pale ruby, fresh and light dominated by raspberry characters, but this Cabernet Franc can not be simply described as Cabernet Sauvignon without the heavy cape. The lightness soon drops an octave lower into darker territory; perfumes of black fruits, aniseed and game. The tannins have a firm grip on the fruit as if being stopped by a request for a password (TENREBAC) before being allowed to move on to the next taste; in effect, slowing down the slideshow of Cabernet Franc perfume on an almost blank fruit palate that is taut, clear and mineral. There is nothing green and dry about it, the fruit and tannins are skillfully integrated with jewel-thief precision. Phillipe Alliet has created the ultimate stealth wine moving through the night with extreme care and quietness. Working with at least 50-year-old vines, this serious Chinon from one of the greats in the Loire is unique, and resists category across all the Cabernet family, …

Arthouse Loire 2009

Skillfully made but distinctly low budget, 2009 Loire is an excellent remedy to the high madness of 2009 Bordeaux primeurs. Forget Bordeaux. Everything under £10 in Loire in 2009 is good value. More than good, excellent value. These are never big budget blockbusters in any vintage, instead, they are closer to art-house films. Under £10, these are low-budget masterpieces. This year, it’s the precision acidity, the depth of fruit and the deep resonating notes driving the wine. It’s half-way through this year, and there’s been excellent 2009 Saumur-Champigny, Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, Sancerre, Cabernet d’Anjou Rose and a Touraine Sauvignon. When Loire gets it right, they are so so right.   Even though most times, or most vintages, it’s just as likely to walk away frustrated and cursing the price of the ticket. In a good vintage such as 2009, it’s as if the wines take the classic twists and make it something cool. But can you get it? If under £10, I recommend you get it while you can.