Tough life – Wines of Loire Valley

You know, the life of a wine industry professional is real tough. Going out to taste wines, being given samples to taste, speaking with winemakers – some of the coolest people around – let me tell ya, I don’t know how I do it.

Last night I had the arduous task of tasting through some wines made from Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley with some contemporaries.

Loire Valley

We started with a sparkling wine, the Vouvrey Brut, Pinon NV. I’m still figuring out exactly how to better assess sparkling wines, but this one did have a nice chalky minerality and crisp tight bubbles – or so I think. Apparently these are desirable sparkling wine characteristics and that darn power of suggestion can be really influential.

Following the “bubbly” we tried 5 still wines. One of the five was rather boring and one dimensional (lacked any complexities). Another was OK and showed decent minerality and subtle honey notes. And a third seemed to have been flawed.

My second favorite wine of the tasting was the 2006 Vouvray “La Haut Lieu” Sec, Huet. This dry Vouvray had a clear straw color. It was initially served rather cold and the nose was difficult to find, but it came around to show nice stone/mineral characteristics as well as zesty lemon/lime & maybe even grapefruit aromas. The wine had a nice, crisp, racy acidity that was fabulously palate cleansing. It did not have a long finish, but it was certainly a clean finish and a very nice wine.

And my favorite wine of the bunch was the 2005 Savennières “Clos Papillon”, Closel. This clear light yellow/straw wine had a subtle but very complex nose. It displayed flinty and minerally characteristics along with honey as well as apricot jam (I was proud to have come up with that one 😉 ).  A contemporary there also came up with a good one – “orange blossom” – although I must admit, I’m not sure exactly what that smells like.  On the palate this wine had a very nice and crisp acidity, that even reminded a bit of white pepper.  A subtle, elegant and complex wine with a medium + finish, this was a winner!

Interestingly enough my two favorites both retail for about $35.  Not cheap, especially for white (and unoaked) wines,  but for nice wines from the Loire Valley not TERRIBLE either.

Happy Crisp White wine tasting!


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