Vouvray. Just the name elicits a curling of the tongue and imaginary French wine drinkings, enjoy a glass at a sidewalk cafe. Located in the Central Loire region of Touraine, Vouvray comes in many styles: From fully sweet to dry; from still to brightly sparkling (Crémant de Loire). But one thing is true of all of these wine: they are all 100% Chenin Blanc. If you’re like me, when you hear Chenin Blanc you think of one of two things: 1. South Africa 2. Old School California jug wine, sister to “Chablis”, in the handy gallon contains, now served on the bottom shelf of the grocery store wine aisle. This ain’t your Mama’s Chenin Blanc! With just over half of the production being sparkling, the chalmy soils of the region lend themselves to crisp and fresh white wines. Vovray is lively, and vibrant, with floral aromas, and flavors of stone fruit, candied orange and honeycomb. The next time you are looking for an interesting white or a sparkler to celebrate Tuesday with, check these out: 2012 Les Chancelieres Vouvray – Clean and dry, with bright citrus and spice drops. Overripe apricots and Golden Delicious apples covered in nutmeg and white flowers. Fantastic with Thai curry! $12 2013 Guy Saget “Marie de Beauregard” Vouvray – Ginger ale and toasted brioche with fig jam, nutty finish with a buttery edge. A great bubbly with rich, creamy cheeses. $20
Chinon might well be best known for it’s Chateau, and it’s central role in Joan of Arc’s story. But in this case, Chinon is known for it’s Cabernet Franc, and it’s other wines. Chinon is located in the region of Touraine, which is located in the central Loire Valley, in northwestern France. Chinon is especially known for it’s Cabernet Franc, although up to 10% of Cabernet Sauvignon can be blended in. There is also some Chenin Blanc planted in the region. Cabernet Franc from Chinon is quite varied and can be bold and grippy, or light and minerally, but both aqre quite affordable and great alternatves to some of the more expensvie regions in France. 2012 Domaine de noiré soif de tendresse chinon – $16.00 When I first opened this, it was very dusty, closed and full force potpourri. But now, after an hour, it’s coming around to lusciousness. On the nose, violets, rosepetals and grassy notes. The palate opens up to reveal a medium bodied grippy red with prune, cherry, wild strawberry, coffee, and smoke notes. 2011 Les pensees de Pallus – $20 Smokey with perfume notes, pencil lead, and bright raspberreis, the peppery notes open up to sour cherry, blackberry, and chewy stewed meat
As you may have read, here on le blog, last fall I was studying for my CSW certification (Certified Specialist of Wine) through SF Wine School. Recently, I learned that I didn’t make the cut; unsurprisingly, with only 65% of first time test takers passing, I narrowly missed my pass rate. After my initial fury at myself for missing 9 itty questions for the required 75% passing rate, I realized that this was a great learning experience, and an opportunity for me to share what I learned here. Studying your passion isn’t always easy. It can turn in to a job, which, in my personal opinion, makes passion die. A little of my passion did indeed die, as I was struggling to understand some regions that I was ill equipped to understand properly, along with work obligations, and family life. Yep, didn’t I say it was my own fault? I lost focus. But I’m back! And I’m going to share my week by week re-examination of the material as I follow along with the official Certified Wine Educators online prep course. My downfall? By far, Germany. Perhaps if I put some Falco on in the background, along with Nena and The Scorpions, the Pradikat levels will soak in to my brain more thoroughly. Rock me Amadeus in the Rhine with the Riesling! While some weeks (namely the chemistry portion) aren’t as fascinating, there is a wine tasting component that is going to not only be really interesting and eye opening, but also help me drill in my head where each region is and what it’s terroir is. I will be the first one to admit, 5 years ago, I was not convinced that French wine was going to be my new love; but here I am, enthralled with Burgundy and the Rhone, and enamored of Languedoc and the Loire. So here goes: Week 1: Wine Composition & Wine Faults I won’t bore you with the details of the winemaking process (unless you really want to know…) but the pairing is Chinon, red Chinon. This Cabernet Franc based wine from the Touraine region of the Central Loire Valley (France) is one that I am less than familiar with, so I look forward to exploring it more, both on my own and with my study buddies. Stay tuned on January 26th for my Chinon tasting exploration! And in February, winemaking, sparkling wine, and then…yes, France!