• For dinner I fixed salmon and asparagus with capers. I also ate split pea soup with a very complex, earthy, organic celery. I wanted a wine to go with the richness of the salmon, but I did not want it to overpower the delicate nature of fish.

    I decided to revisit one of my favorite wine regions… the Loire Valley.  If the wine is red, then it is a near certainty that the varietal will be Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir or Gamay. I am a huge fan of Cabernet Franc, and the sub-region of Chinon has some higher acid, medium to light bodied, really approachable ones for a steal.

    If you are looking at a white wine from the Loire then the grape varietal will probably be Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc or Melon de Bourgogne. The sub-region Muscadet typically uses the Melon varietal. The Melon is a grape of lesser complexity than some, so in order to give it more character they will often leave the dead yeast in with the wine as its aging prior to bottling. This technique is called ‘sur lie’ which translates to ‘on lees’, lees being yeast. The yeast imparts a bit of creaminess, fruitiness, flavor and aroma to put it simply.

    In Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre you will find Sauvignon Blanc to be your main white varietal. Pouilly-Fumé is not to be confused with Pouilly-Fuissé, a different sub-region in Burgundy that is well known for its Chardonnay.

    I had a man try to stump me with wine questions a few weeks ago. The first question was where the term Meritage came from when referencing wine. I said, well back in ’88 a group in Napa was frustrated with label laws and came up with a term to say it was a Bordeaux style wine. They put the terms merit and heritage together.

    I fired back, what two grapes were crossed to get Cabernet Sauvignon? He didn’t know. The answer was Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc (I mentioned this in a post once. It’s a great trivia question). He didn’t believe me and immediately checked to his dismay.

    Now he was on a mission so he tried one last time. Where did the wine Fumé Blanc come from? (now you can probably see where I’m going with this.

    Without missing a beat I said, Robert Mondavi coined the term to promote his drier, crisper style of wine. He forgot to copyright it and it took off. So now a bunch of people use the term. He conceded his crusade and said well played you really do know your wine.

    The point of that anecdote was not to boost my ego, but rather to give you a way to remember that Pouilly-Fumé produces Sauvignon Blanc. ‘Fumé Blanc’ sounds a bit more familiar now, huh?

    This leads me to the wine choice of tonight. Vouvray. Oh Vouvray, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… full rich with a bit of sweetness, and the acidity to balance it out. The varietal? Chenin Blanc. Unlike a large portion of Saumur, which produces a crisper, leaner version, Vouvray likes the fuller Botticelliesque style.

     

     

    One in particular has enraptured me year after year. It’s always reasonably priced and delicious.

    Pichot 2011 Vouvray Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette

     

     

    Winemaker’s Notes:

    100% Chenin Blanc. Golden raisins on the nose and on the palate. Grape juicy, like table grapes concentrate. Easy to drink, already well-balanced with some elements of cloves, butter tarte tatin and a touch of maple sugar. Good fruit extension with some grapefruit and apple skin on the finish.

     

    I hope you will feel compelled to try Loire soon, because it’s tasty.