The Vines of Summer :: Loire Valley Wines at Fenway Park
British transplants Charles and Phillippa Sydney were on hand with some bottles of quite tasty wine from their vineyard, which they have run for the past two decades.
"Twenty years ago, all you had to stop fermentation was sulfur," Charles, a cheerful man, told us. "Now you use cooler temperatures, so you have half the sulfur and you’re harvesting the grapes later."
The result is a higher alcoholic content, without compromising the wine’s structure. Moreover, the winery’s fact sheet declared, "We complicate things further by asking our producers to use sustainable vineyard methods."
The Château du Fou Rosé, Fiefs Vendéens-Mareuil, a 2011 vintage, is made from equal parts Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir, with some Cabernet. It’s a delightful glass with strawberry overtones and a jammy mouthfeel that is fulsome but not overly sweet.
The Réserve Spéciale, Saint Pourçain, a 2011 vintage made from 100% Gamay Noir, is a more complex wine sporting the flavors of dark red fruits with notes of iron and leather. Its nose is decidedly floral, with a bouquet of roses foremost in the mix.
La Grille Classic Loire, Malbec, Touraine, also a 2011 vintage, similarly has a floral character, though undergirded with iron. The wine is a bit tannic, but blossoms into a long, peppery finish. Overall, this wine has a light, fresh feeling about it.
The Sacré Blanc, made 100% Chenin Blanc, has a strong floral bouquet, smelling distinctly of narcissus. The flavor, however, is characterized by peach and pear. This wine has a creamy mouthfeel; it’s quite a lush glass, with plenty of character and complexity.
By contrast, the 2010 Domaine des Forges, Coteaux du Layon Chaume, has a very tannic nose, with a hint of turpentine. Don’t be put off, however; as a dessert wine, this glass rules with an extremely intense, yet not cloying, sweetness and a lightly syrupy mouthfeel.
Chateau de Bellevue
Hervé Tijou is a fifth-generation winemaker. "My grandfather bought the castle in 1894," he explained. Now he and his wife, Anne, run the winery.
Chateau de Bellevue had on hand several vintages made from 100% Chenin. The Anjou Blanc, 2011 carries a complex nose and offers a crisp, tart, apple flavor with a hint of citrus and a mineral character.
The Savennières, 2009 offers a tannic, mineral nose, but a buttery / butterscotch flavor. An initial sweetness unfolds into a complex structure of flavor. This is a wine that could stand on its own as an aperitif or pair nicely with fish or white meat.
The Chaume, 2010, is another good candidate for an aperitif. A very sweet wine, this would pair well with rich French fare such as foie gras or bleu cheese. The wine has a syrupy mouthfeel, and a peach / apricot flavor.
The Cabernet d’Anjou, 2011, marks a departure into rosé wine, and is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. A classic rosé, the Cabernet Anjou tastes of red fruit, especially red apple, and berries. It’s a light, refreshing glass that is not too sweet. "In France, young people will drink this on the terrace," Anne noted.
The Crémant de Loire, 2008, is made mostly from Chenin Blanc, but with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Grolleau. This being a sparkling wine, Hervé served it in a flute. The bubbles were not especially tight or tiny, but the wine’s sweet flavor, carrying notes of white fruit, avoided being cloying.
Domaine de Montgilet
Xavier Mangin poured us a glass of Anjou, 2010, a wine made from 100% Chenin. The nose has a character of dark fruit, but the wine is dry to the palate and carries a richness about it, almost an incense.
My husband and I joked with Mangin over the coincidence of his sharing the same last name as a former work colleague who had boasted of his great-grandmother being the most beautiful woman in the world in her day, not to mention the consort to the King of France. By extension, this former work colleague was, evidently, one of the contemporary world’s beautiful denizens. Well, it’s true he was French and charming.
Mangen smiled uncertainly. "It’s a very common name," he told us, doling out glasses of Anjou-Villages Brissac, 2010, a very young vintage made from 100 Cabernet Franc that had only been bottled a couple of months before. This proved to be a very light and refreshing red wine, almost a rosé in character. "We want to have wine that is very drinkable, not with a lot of alcohol," Mangin said. This glass certainly fit the bill.
Bernard Landron of Landron-Chartier, an estate located near Ligné, to the North of the Loire Valley, offered us a taste of his Château de Clermont, Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire sur lie, 2011. This wine is made entirely of Melon de Bourgogne grapes, and carries a slight floral essence with citrus notes above a basic minerality.
The estate’s Tradition, Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire sue lie, 2011, is a younger wine, quite subtle and light, with a refreshing quality. The wine carries hints of citrus and vanilla. The Tradition wines come from vines "planted in gneiss and othogeneiss soils," the winery’s fact sheet noted. "The wines are fresh, fine, and expressive."
Then there’s the Révélation, Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire sur lie, 2009, the vines for which grow in in a schist-rich soil. Made entirely from Melon de Bourgogne grapes, this is a mature wine, quite dry, dark and earthy with walnut notes and the merest suggestion of sweetness. A quality of oak comes out in the finish. A lovely, complex glass, this vintage lives up to its name.