France and wines are synonyms just like India and kebabs, or slumdog millionaires. France has gifted many wine wonders to the world and one of them is the Loire Valley. Apart from the world heritage city certification and breath-taking landscapes, Chenin Blanc and Cabernets also earn it its respect. South of Paris, Loire Valley is predominantly a cool climate region that produces wines of elegance and finesse.
Lately, Wi-Not was visited by Madame Evelyne de Pontbriand, proud owner of Chateau Des Vaults of Loire Valley, and she even took time to introduce her wines to us. Apart from its gigantic ‘80s style chateau, beautifully located vineyard, lush vines and constant smell of wine being made, ‘Closel’ is also a certified organic vineyard and an official wildlife refuge. Mainly managed by women, they also follow biodynamic winemaking practices. Mme. Pontbriand believes deeply in the concept of ‘terroir’ and has accordingly planted the vines of the same variety (Chenin Blanc) to make different styles of wines in the same vintage.
We were lucky to have a portion of these wines to taste, here are the notes:
La Jalousie – White wine – Chenin Blanc: The wine maker calls it ‘a wine for conversation’ and so it is. It is an easily approachable citrusy wine with a solid minerally hit on the nose and palate. A smooth young wine with high acidity and fullness of fruits, hit of orange zest, white fruits, respectful balance and moderate aftertaste. A good wine to pair with cheese, salads, antipasti, and crunchy starters. It can also be enjoyed with grilled fish dishes, most white seafood preparations and Med-style grilled vegetable platters. Or best, by itself. The name, ‘jealousy’ has an interesting story but we shall refrain from repeating it here. Mme. Pontbriand tells it best.
Anjou Village – Red Wine – Cabernet Franc + Cabernet Sauvignon: The Loire Valley definitely makes some impressive and competitive reds. This wine proves it. A blend between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a playful wine and hard to not enjoy. Although not needed, it can be held for a bit and would drink well with food. A good pairing could be with grilled red meats like tenderloin, lamb chops, or game. Vegetarians may select charcoal mushrooms or grilled pepper cottage cheese steaks.
Clos du Papillon moelleux – White Wine – Chenin Blanc: Late harvest wines from Chenin are appreciated all around the world but this one wasn’t a late harvest produce. This highly aromatic wine comes from the most lauded of terroirs where the cold winds gives the grape an added personality. Predominantly a fruity wine with notes of peaches, green apple, pear, asparagus, stewed plums, hints of honey and figs. The wine has controlled residual sweetness that keeps it away from falling in the family of a sweet/dessert wine. Think more off-dry. Sharp balance between acid and sweetness entices you to come back to the wine, leaving a long fruity aftertaste. Could definitely complement spices well. We concur with the winemaker in calling it ‘a wine for gastronomy’.
Wines, Eiffel tower, gastronomy, landscapes, cheese, fashion, and Laetitia Casta are some of the things that come to mind when you think of France. Were Wi-Not to rank them, wine would certainly be placed on top (though some might prefer women there). Loire then would be one solid reason to reaffirm such an accolade for French wines. Santé!