Friday, 12 July 2013

Two wines from the Loire Valley

One of the perks of being in the wine business is that I often get to drink free wine (usually from various growers on my list, and occasionally those looking for me to import them). But I recently received an offer of a couple of bottles, courtesy of a certain French wine promotional organisation, purely it seems for the sole purpose of blogging about them. Of course, I have in the past had numerous offers of some or other product to review, despite the fact that they were in no way related to wine - and I have (for obvious reasons) refused. But wine is different! Not that I would want to fall into the trap of receiving such samples on a regular basis, simply because I don't want to feel obliged to write about them. And if I did write about them, I certainly wouldn't shy away from writing something negative, if called for. Thankfully though, this pair from the Loire, which I decided to accept (purely in the name of research, you understand!) were not bad at all...................

Fief Guérin Vieilles Vignes 2011 Muscadet Cotes de Grandlieu Sur Lie
Pale straw-gold, with an attractive nose of stone fruits, cut lime, wet stone and a slight hint of the sea. Being a "sur lie", I was expecting a touch of leesy richness to the palate, but it is in fact steely dry and really quite lean, with flavours of unripe apples, lemon pith and just a slight hint of peachiness. Needless to say, it doesn't lack for acidity, and a streak of stony slightly salty minerality adds to the feeling of austerity. That said, Muscadet (at least in my limited experience) was never about opulent fruit flavours, and as an aperitif, it certainly makes the mouth water and gets the taste buds flowing. We drank it with a selection of cured hams, mousse de foie gras de canard, cheeses and salad, and it really did work quite well, although I think my perfect match for it would be moules a la mariniere. At £7.49 from Waitrose, it provides fairly good value, although its combination of dry, pithy fruit and searing acidity may come as quite a shock to all but the most seasoned Muscadet campaigners.

Famille Bougrier Rosé d'Anjou 2011
A blend of Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Grolleau. Quite the loveliest salmon/cherry pink colour. There's an initial touch of reduction on the nose, but this blows off quickly. From there, it is all about fruit - red and black berries, peach, apricot and even a slice of tart apple for extra freshness. Even though I am a confirmed Languedoc-Roussillon addict, I have always tended to favour rosés from the Loire. The relative lack of ripeness in the cooler north lends itself to fresher, fruitier, less alcoholic wines, and at just 11% abv, this one is light enough to allow all of those fresh fruit flavours to shine. There is even a smidgen of residual sugar, which helps it to slip down very easily, though not at the expense of some refreshing, almost orangey acidity. All-in-all, this is a pretty decent rosé for the money (£4.69 from Morrisons). It paired well with some barbecued steak and chipolata sausages we brought back from France, and made a refreshing alternative to the usual full-bodied reds. And as TLD is a Morrisons employee (and shareholder) I am happy to recommend it - especially as I/we didn't have to pay for it! ;-) It is also available from the Wine Society, though at the rather surprising price (given some of their insanely low mark-ups on certain other wines I could mention) of £6.95. Then again, the Morrisons price has all the hallmarks of a typical supermarket loss-leader.

Lots more on my Languedoc trip coming up very shortly.........