Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Loire Whites: A Pouilly Fume and an Anjou

With two wines from Chinon (1,2), a Vouvray and now a Pouilly Fume and an Anjou, it seems like July is turning into Loire Valley month. It didn't start this way - perhaps it was the trip to France, or some subtle ribbing from my fellow bloggers - but it has been a great journey (new theme next month...). Tonight, I wanted to try two very different Loire whites to put everything in context - a Chenin from Anjou and a Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly Fume.

I really liked the 2006 Pascal Jolivet Pouilly Fume. Pale gold with a slight 'emerald' tinge, the wine showed nice white grapefruit, toasty bread, wet stones and some peach on the nose. Interesting, pleasing, but it was the taste that really got me excited. Dry, with lively acidity, this light- to medium-bodied white was extremely well balanced, crisp and elegant with minerally flavours, I found this to be a beautiful, classic example of a great French Sauvignon Blanc. Made me wonder - what's the fuss with New Zealand?
12.5% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$27 (SAQ)

The 2004 Chateau de Fesles Chenin Sec "La Chapelle" is a white from Anjou by Bernard Germain. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the alcohol on the label! Pale gold in hue, this was a very aromatic wine. Fresh (Pink Lady) apple, orange, peach, nutmeg, and some buttery/oaky aromas on the nose. It was very hard to detect the very high alcohol in this one. Tasting of honey and oranges, this was a dry white with light acidity. A robust and full-bodied white, it was atypical - very New World/modern - but bold and well-balanced. It overpowered a lightly cooked sole, it would probably pair better with poultry. Not exactly classic, but wonderfully delicious.
14.5% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20
Price: C$25.55 (SAQ)

I found that my wife and I gulped the Sauvingon with dinner, but sipped the apple-buttery Chenin after.


Brooklynguy said...

Nice tasting notes. It's weird how little exploring I've done in the Sauvignon Blanc parts of the Loire Valley. I mean to, but it's all i can do to taste all of the glorious Chenins, in their dry, off-dry, and sweet versions. Never tried this producer, for example. You gave it a good score but your notes sounded guarded, as if you liked it but you aren't sure that you trust yourself for saying so...

Marcus said...

Château des Fesles makes a reliable and affordable Anjou red but is known for its rich Bonnezeaux (Côteau du Layon) dessert wines made with Chenin.

As for the fuss with New Zealand SB, my experience is spend your money elsewhere. Definitely! Bordeaux, Loire, ahem, Niagara (I'm thinking of Vineland Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2005) all seem to be better values to me.

Joe said...

Thanks BKG. Yep, I liked the Fesles very much. More complex on the nose vs. the SB, but slightly less balanced on the palate. Also, the rather low acidity made it a great quaffer, but the SB was simply better with food. My wife and I decided that the Fesles would be ideal as an apertif. I also suspect this may improve - I don't really cellar whites (other than Sauternes), so it is a five year experiment I should start today.
Funny you should mention that Marcus - I was out loading up on Chenin to 'practice', and I noticed that Fesles red ($17) AFTER I had enjoyed a bottle of their white. I'm on a bit of a roll, so I thought I'd grab a bottle. Watch this space...I don't mean to be so hard on NZ - I like them, but they seem to get all the media while Loire gets none. As for Niagara, I will pick one of those Vinelands on my next run to Ontario (I have some 2004 Bordeaux futures to pick up).
Cheers to both of you!