Category: Travel

Spotlight on: Oporto and the Douro Valley

Now that we are in December, I think it’s safe to say that we are in the thick of winter, which of course makes it the perfect time to talk about port and Douro wines.

Tribuary, Douro Valley, Portugal

I visited the Douro Valley way back in sunny June when temperatures had already scaled the 30s. Degree C, that is. I think there was talk of it being so hot that it’s essentially nine months of hell, and we haven’t even begun talking about working on the region’s famously steep slopes.

Port really needs no introduction to the English market, especially given English merchant’s heavy involvement in creating this fortified wine. Dry Douro wines, like the lesser known cousin, needs a little more help.

The easiest way of describing these is that they are the unfortified version of port, which they are in many respects. After all, they are both made in the Douro Valley and from almost the same sets of indigenous Portuguese grapes. And the most obvious similarity can be drawn between the red Douro wines and vintage ports, especially at youth. The Douro Valley has some great dry, white wines too but there are far more differences between the dry, white Douro wines and the white ports.

Quintas along the river, Douro Valley, Portugal

The dry, red Douro wines have an intensity of fruit and colour that’s incredibly distinctive and appealing to those who like powerful wines with more than a little wood spice. Vintage ports, meanwhile, fortified and aged in giant barrels with little contact with oxygen, retains much of their fruit but with the added touch of sweetness and of course alcohol. Tasting the two side by side, the connection is immediately obvious.

The IVDP’s website is a great resource for learning about how these wines are made: www.ivdp.pt

Innovation in the Douro Valley

I think what surprised me the most, apart from discovering some incredibly nice wines, is how open to change this very traditional part of the world is. Sure, the slopes remain steep, the sun is just as intense and some Quintas still foot-tread the grapes in the lagares (the shallow, concrete tanks used for foot treading) but the way that port is produced and served is always open to innovation. Pink ports, for example, only arrived on the scene in 2008 with Croft Pink being the first.

Croft Port from the river, Douro Valley, Portugal

For port, the first push for change is about unveiling the alternatives. In the UK at least, we’re always caught up on vintage, ruby and tawny ports, forgetting that there are also white and pink ports as well as a number of esoteric styles that are made by only a handful of producers. For example, Taylor’s Chip Dry, which has been around for a while, was originally produced as an alternative to Fino sherry.

Of course, it’s not just about creating new product lines – there needs to be a certain level of quality guarantee too. It took a while for Croft Pink to be accepted as a port because the category for pink ports did not exist. And indeed the IVDP does a lot to ensure that quality of port we see is maintained at a certain standard – more on that later.

The second push for change is about how port is drunk. It would probably be unthinkable to put a vintage port into a cocktail but dry white, ruby and tawny are all fair game. (I collected some port-based cocktail recipes which you can read on Yahoo) Sometimes, it’s even the winemakers themselves leading the charge like at Quinta do Portal.

Port producers have certainly recognised the need for evolution but I hope the quality of the Douro’s ports and wines don’t suffer as a result of it.

Here are the stops on my Douro trip:

Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP)
Graham’s
Quinta de la Rosa
Quinta de Sao Jose
Quinta do Portal
Quinta do Seixo
Quinta do Tedo
Ramos Pinto
Taylor’s

Domaine Ogereau, Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay

This is a post in the Spotlight on: the Loire Valley series

Domaine Ogereau’s production is absolutely tiny.

At just 20 hectares, 10 of which are devoted to Coteaux du Layon, they are heavily influenced by the saleability of sweet wines. Perhaps that’s why, with the addition of their son Emmanuel as the new winemaker, the owners Vincent and Catherine Ogereau are exploring the terroirs of Coteaux du Layon for dry Chenin Blanc.

Emmanuel Ogereau, Domaine Ogereau, Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay

Emmanuel Ogereau becomes the fifth generation of the family to be a winemaker at the property. Having studied wine business in Dijon, trained in Burgundy and made wine in Oregon and Central Otago, he will certainly be giving the family’s wines a facelift.

We tasted their current, mostly sweet, selection starting with the dry Domaine Ogereau Anjou en Chenin 2012 – a lemony fresh wine that was vibrant on the palate but not that exciting.

The Clos le Grand Beaupréan Savennières 2011 felt a little austere with its crisp apple note, steely minerality and tannic finish. With a little age, the Clos le Grand Beaupréan Savennières 2007 had a lightly oxidised nose but revealed a distinctive wine that was very complex with notes of apple and bees wax.

From then on it was the sweet wines.

The Coteau du Layon Saint Lambert 2013 was an entry level sweet wine with floral, white fruit and peach notes.

Domaine Ogereau own a cherished parcel of land that they call “bonnes blanches” which is essentially schist soil that looks like chalk. From that parcel, they produce a few different wines.

The Harmonie des Bonnes Blanches Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert 2011 was rich with apricot and floral notes as well as intense Botrytis nose and a long finish.

The Clos des Bonnes Blanches Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert 2011 had a slightly truffled nose followed by dried apricots, honey and lemon peel. Best described as a rich nectar, it had an extremely long, lip-sticking finish. With a little age, the Clos des Bonnes Blanches Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert 2007 had an even more pronounced truffled nose with stunning intensity and concentration of honey and caramel, lifted by a floral note. It was really reminiscent of a great Sauternes.

The last wine was the Cuvée Nectar Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert 1990. Again, the wine was intense and concentrated with notes of floral honey but it also had a tannic, bitter tinge. Developing into a syrup, it somehow felt passed it. A shame, because it could, and should, have been a great wine.

www.domaineogereau.com

Eric Morgat, Clos Ferrard, Savennières

This is a post in the Spotlight on: the Loire Valley series

Eric Morgat is an interesting winemaker to meet, not least because his name is his wine brand rather than that of an estate.

Eric Morgat, Anjou

Clearly passionate about winemaking, Morgat has worked from the ground up acquiring parcels of land to make his wine. His first vintage was in 1995, when he was just 25.

His “garden”, often previously uncultivated land, as this is cheaper than the alternative, are based in different parts of the Anjou; some are right next to the Loire river while others are further inland. His is the Black Anjou – the volcanic schist soil that produces grapes with higher alcohol and a thicker grape skin, giving a tannic structure not unlike that of red wines.

Right now, he has no winery of his own either but is in the process of building one.

Wine glass, Eric Morgat, Anjou

Despite not owning an estate in the conventional sense, he’s gained a cult following of sorts and his wines are well regarded. He used to be known for making dry wines with Botrytised grapes but is now concentrating more on preserving the purity of fruit.

We started the tasting at a cliff’s edge with his vines by one side and the Loire on the other. It was the Eric Morgat Savennières L’Enclos Fidès 2012 – a wine that’s been barrel fermented for a year before blending and ageing for a further year in stainless steel tanks. Opening with an intense citric nose, the wine had great minerality and acidity; finishing with a savoury note, it also had enough body to match to meats.

Moving into his cellar, we tasted more wines from the L’Enclos and the Litus parcels.

The Eric Morgat Anjou Blanc Litus 2012 was a flavoursome wine to start with, offering notes of citrus, pear and white fruits followed by a savoury finish. The slightly older Eric Morgat Anjou Blanc Litus 2011 was a little closed at first, and should be decanted, but opened with greater proportions of white fruit and minerality than the previous vintage.

The Eric Morgat Savennières L’Enclos 2011 had a noticeably richer body, more minerality and a slight hint of honey on the nose followed by crisp apples. The Eric Morgat Savennières L’Enclos 2010, in the early stages of development, had become very provocative with a sort of bruised apple note – it would certainly be interesting to see a bit more age on this wine. And finally the Eric Morgat Savennières L’Enclos 2009 made a beautiful final wine – pronounced fruity nose of pears backed by light oak and a savoury finish.

 

www.ericmorgat.com

Domaine des Forges, Saint Aubin de Luigné

This is a post in the Spotlight on: the Loire Valley series

The family owned Domaine des Forges began when Pierre Robineau purchased two hectares of vines and named it “le Clos des Forges”. Robineau, at the time, was a grocer and draper and the vines were just a sort of side project. It wasn’t until the second generation that more vineyards were purchased and the Domaine grew.

Vineyards, Domaine des Forges, Saint Aubin de Luigné

The current owners, Stéphane and Séverine Branchereau, are the fifth generation and own 47 hectares spread across the Anjou. While also making a fair selection of dry wines, their main focus has been sweet wines – they have vines in Coteaux du Layon and Quarts-de-Chaume.

What is notable is the fact that they have sweet wines at various price points, making their product potentially very accessible to price sensitive consumers. However, it’s also a shame because, while their top end product is stunning, the journey to the top is a slow slug of nice but not quite nice enough.

We tasted a sizeable selection starting with the l’Audace du Domaine des Forgres Anjou Blanc 2013, a simple, citrusy wine with light minerality.

Much of their other dry wine selection was focused on Savennières.

Le Moulin de Gué Savennières 2012 was fruity, rather than savoury, with white fruit and apple notes as well as a slight sweetness and minerality. Le Clos du Papillon Savennières 2012 was a crisp wine filled with apples and pears.

Standing out more was La Roche aux Moines Savennières 2012, which had a much richer palate, greater balance and, I felt, greater potential for interesting ageing. Equally rich was Le Clos du Papillon Savennières Demi-Sec 2011, a honeyed, savoury wine with notes of white and tropical fruit as well as a floral highlight.

Moving on to their Coteaux du Layon we started with the entry level Coteaux du Layon 2013, which was not too sweet after the Demi-Sec and had a bit of a minty, eucalyptus touch.

The Cuvée des Forges Coteaux du Layon 2010, which was good for its price point, had a slight petroleum, Botrytised nose with dried apricots and good acidity.

The quirky, but not unpleasant, Coteaux du Layon St Aubin 2013 had a slightly musty, funky nose with lots of tropical fruit and pineapple flavours. The Coteaux du Layon Chaume 2010 had a nice amount of sweetness balanced with acidity but while there were notes of tropical fruits, it wasn’t very complex. The “En Aparté” Coteaux du Layon Chaume 2010 had better intensity from a period of oak barrel ageing.

The concentration really stepped up with the Coteaux du Layon Premier Cru Chaume 2011, which had nice minerality alongside Botrytis notes and fresh acidity.

Next up was the Quarts-de-Chaume 2008, which felt strangely like a Botrytised Riesling but with dried fruit peel and less viscosity. The Quarts-de-Chaume Grand Cru 2011, in contrast, had a rich syrupy texture and incredible acidity blended into the caramel and dried fruit notes.

Finishing things off was the stunning Sélection de Grains Nobles Coteaux du Layon Chaume 1997. It’s the most concentrated wine of the lot, with the highest residual sugar, but still showing a youthful character. With pronounced nose of lychee, caramel, truffle and candied fruit and a rich, syrupy texture, it’s, at last, where great terroir and great winemaking meet.

www.domainedesforges.net

Domaine de la Paleine, Le Puy-Notre-Dame

This is a post in the Spotlight on: the Loire Valley series

The village of Le Puy-Notre-Dame is known for its subterranean caves, used at one time to grow mushrooms. These days, they form the basis of the cellar at Domaine de la Paleine.

The Domaine is an interesting proposition.

As well as being a mix of private home and working winery, the estate is also open to eno-tourism. And they just so happen to fall between the Anjou and Saumur appellations so produces a little of both.

Winery dog, Domaine de la Paleine, Le Puy-Notre-Dame

Unfortunately on the day that I visited, the winemaker wasn’t around to explain his wines, but what was obvious was the fact that the owner loved opera – many of the wines had names that were related to Italian operas, with each vintage given a different name. The results were pretty haphazard and I didn’t have a whole lot of joy with the tasting.

The tasting started with an Arpeggio Saumur Blanc 2013 tank sample; a simple citrusy wine that’s yet to integrate. The Toccata Saumur Blanc 2012, the same wine as Arpeggio but under a different name, had a slightly honeyed character with a ripe and rounded finish. There were plenty of white peach notes but again, simple in style.

The La Paleine Saumur Blanc 2011 felt disjointed somehow despite boasting some good peach and floral notes. Similarly disappointing was the Pamina Saumur Blanc 2011 – off balance and hot on the palate at 15% alcohol.

The Traviata Saumur Blanc 2010 was an unoaked demi-sec; boasting a savoury nose, it wasn’t quite enticing enough.

The Pamina Anjou Blanc 2010 was made a viscous moelleux-style wine, which was sadly a bit one dimensional with little complexity of fruit.

Moving up to La Paleine’s more premium wines, the Aria Saumur Blanc 2010 had hints of oak with a lemony honey note. The Casta Diva Anjou Blanc 2009 had a pungent peppery and stinky gunpowder nose, followed by orange peel bitterness – it’s a good name for a difficult wine.

Finally it was on to the sweet wines. The Coteaux de Saumur Late Harvest 2011, at last, showed some complexity with floral notes coming up top. The older Coteaux de Saumur Late Harvest 2010 had a sort of savoury tropical fruit note but had lost much of its freshness.

www.domaine-paleine.com

Domaine des Roches Neuves, Saumur-Champigny

This is a post in the Spotlight on: the Loire Valley series

Thierry Germain has big ideas; and he’s not afraid to share them.

Thierry Germain, Domaine des Roches Neuves, Saumur-Champigny

Owner and wine maker at Domaine des Roches Neuves since 1992, he is an avid supporter of biodynamic winemaking. Despite having more than three times the labour of a normal vineyard, his vineyards are minimally interventionist.

For him, the vine is like an upside down man; the roots are the head and the shoots are the arms and legs. Instead of trimming or green harvesting, he likes to roll the shoots around the trellising so that, come August, the vine will concentrate the grape sugars naturally. The thinking is that if a man can’t function without arms and legs then neither can the vines.

Now if we suppose the sun is the father and the earth is the mother.

Over the course of a day, the vine leaves will move to protect the grapes from the sun. This he discovered sitting still for four hours, just to watch his vines grow. If you trim the leaves, the sun will concentrate the sugars of the grapes but you’ll also get a masculine wine – the wine will be dominated by the effects of the father.

And there’s also his philosophy that “wine is about good and not beautiful”. A vineyard might not be as presentable untrimmed but if the resulting wine is good then that’s all that matter.

Wines, Domaine des Roches Neuves, Saumur-Champigny

In his cellar, the one that he hollowed out himself, we tasted a few quirky and very different wines.

We started with the Clos Ecotard Saumur Blanc 2013, a fresh, citrusy wine with notes of under-ripe apples and extremely high acidity.

The L’insolite Saumur Blanc 2013, an old vine wine, was rich in minerality and acidity, flanked by white fruit and flowers.

Clos de l’Échelier Saumur Blanc 2013, in contrast with the first two wines, was very aromatic with lots of pear, tropical and floral notes as well as a mineral freshness. The Clos Romans Saumur Blanc 2013 that followed was much more closed with more citrus notes and minerality.

The L’insolite Saumur Blanc 2010, opened two weeks ago, had really opened up. It began with white peach and crisp apple before rendering into a complex blend of minerality and freshness. It’s certainly not a classic Chenin Blanc.

The Terre 2013 was an experimental amphora wine (he only has the one) which had nine months of maceration in amphora with malolactic fermentation and no added sulphur. The resulting orange wine was very complex but bitter and tannic with notes of orange peel. It was, at one time, sold at Noma. The rather challenging Terre 2012, in contrast, didn’t have much fruit or freshness but retained its tannic and bitter complexity. It was also a bit reminiscent of bird dropping – not entirely pleasant.

There are more experiments in the cellar.

In one barrel was an as yet unnamed white wine that was a cuvée of the 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 vintages of Chenin Blanc. Reminiscent of sherry, there was a definite nutty, oxidative nose; but there was also cabbage pungency and struck match aromas.

There was also a one-off sweet wine from 1995, made to moelleux style. It took six years of fermentation to achieve 6% alcohol, with no added yeast, but the result was a complex blend of raisins, dried apricots and prunes with a concentrated richness that’s closer to liquoreux style sweet wines.

Up in the soon to be completed tasting room, we also tried some of his other wines.

The Bulles de Roche Saumur Brut NV had a bready nose with bruised pear and mushy white fruit as a top note with an underlying bitterness.

The Franc de Pied Saumur-Champigny 2013 was initially fruit forward before pulling back to reveal more vegetable and spicy notes. The tank sample we tried also had a touch of bubble gum with bramble and grippy tannins. The much older Franc de Pied Saumur-Champigny 1996, opened for two weeks, had a faintly sweet fermented soy bean nose with teeth stripping tannin, dense fruit and a very savoury palate. The long finish was of prunes and plums.

Many of Germain’s wines were challenging but some were fantastic. He’s happy with that verdict because for him, “it’s good to see people who have emotion when tasting my wine and biodynamic wines have that effect”.

www.rochesneuves.com

Domaine Bourillon Dorléans, Rochecorbon

This is a post in the Spotlight on: the Loire Valley series

Frédéric Bourillon is the third generation of winemakers at Domaine Bourillon Dorléans, an estate founded by his granddad.

Frédéric Bourillon, Domaine Bourillon Dorléans, Vouvray

He’s a bit of a character, though perhaps not in the same way as Pascal Cuisset at Château des Eyssards.

For Bourillon, phallic symbols seem to be a bit of an obsession – he wears it on a necklace. He’s also big into art and the two are sometimes interlinked.

Stone person, Domaine Bourillon Dorléans, Vouvray

His cave cellar, carved into the mountain and dating back to the 15th Century, is filled with artwork. Some 20 years ago, Bourillon encouraged a couple of artist friends to etch out bas relief icons on the walls. Now this network of tunnels form the perfect venue for drinks, parties and other gatherings. The last carving at the end of the tunnel is, you guessed it, a phallic symbol.

You get a sense of laissez-faire about him too – grass is left growing freely between the vines, to encourage healthy competition – but this doesn’t translate into the results. His large portfolio of wines have won a great many awards, many of which are quickly succumbing to the dampness of his cellar where they hang proudly.

There is great generosity behind his brusqueness too, as he opened no less than 16 different wines for tasting and cooked for us himself.

We started with the Domaine Bourillon Dorléans Vouvray Premium Brut 2010, a buoyantly sparkling off-dry wine with notes of crisp apples and citrus. It’s a simple, youthful style.

Then it was on to the L’Indigéne Vouvray 2009, a dry wine made with natural yeast and no chaptalisation (adding sugar to increase the alcohol). The resulting wine had a rounded stone fruit character with even a little tropical note of lychees and white flowers. The L’Indigéne Vouvray 2007 was much more waxy in comparison with a little more honey on the nose. The L’Indigéne Vouvray 2008, a fuller-bodied vintage, was flavoursome but had a slight hint of sweet corn on the nose.

Changing to a different label, we tried the Saint Martin 2009, a lightly tropical wine with a waxy nose and a fine balance of minerality and long finish.

Changing labels again, it was on to the Oppidum 2011, a strange mix of concentrated sweet nose, bubble gum palate and dry finish. The Oppidum 2008 followed a similar strain of bubble gum but this time with sweetcorn. The funky mix is likely to be a wine fault rather than intentional as the next two wines from the Oppidum label were comparatively normal in terms of flavour profile.

The Oppidum 2007 had an oaky closed nose with stone fruit notes and a faintly detectable whiff of sulphur while the Oppidum 2009 was filled with minerality.

Moving on to the Vouvray Demi-Sec, the award-winning labels, we started with the Vouvray Demi-Sec 2011. It’s a stony, steely number with light floral perfume and tropical pineapple notes. The Vouvray Demi-Sec 2007 had a more pronounced tropical pineapple nose, apricots and the beginnings of development. When it came to the Vouvray Demi-Sec 2005, the tropical notes have been further reduced in favour of development and there’s a hint of gunpowder and struck match. Finally the Vouvray Demi-Sec 2003, which was perhaps passed its best, showed overwhelming cabbage notes and very little fruit.

Next up was the sweet wines. The La Coulée d’Or 2010 showed nice acidity against a limey apricot and pineapple nose. The Noble Rot affected La Coulée d’Or 2009 showed similar notes, with a long finish, but was a little cloying at times. Rounding off the tasting was the La Coulée d’Or 2003, a complex blend of truffle, prune, apricot and orange peel.

www.bourillon.com

Château Moncontour, Vouvray

This is a post in the Spotlight on: the Loire Valley series

Château Moncontour is, along with four other estates and a négociant business, part of the Feray family’s wine portfolio.

Château Moncontour, Vouvray

Moncontour itself is composed of 130 hectares split across Vouvray, Rochecorbon, Vernou and Reugny. It’s also on its way to further expansion as new distribution deals with the UK has meant the building of new facilities.

As a sizeable estate, it has the capacity to produce the full spectrum of the Vouvray Appellation – from sparkling (traditional method) to liquoreux. The biggest part of its production, around 85%, is actually sparkling Vouvray.

Despite its size, the wine is in no way impersonal.

Jérôme Loisy, winemaker, Château Moncontour, Vouvray

The winemaker, Jérôme Loisy, has been with the company for some 21 years. More recently, he’s been experimenting with single-parcel vinification in his Lafite-inspired winery with some interesting results.

During the tasting at the Château we actually tasted a couple of wines from the group’s other estates too, starting with an organic sparkling Vouvray.

The elegant Domaine du Petit Coteau Vouvray Sparkling NV (organic) was a fresh and citrusy wine with a smooth mousse and a long, dry finish. The Château Moncontour Cuvée Prédilection Grande Réserve 2010, in comparison, had much finer bubbles with a softer nose of crisp apples but a richer mouthfeel.

On the still wines, the Château Moncontour Vouvray Nature Sec 2013 started off in a simple style with crisp green apples and citrus before moving into more complex minerality. The Château Moncontour Vouvray Nature Demi-Sec 2013 was very marginally sweeter but with a certain warmness from white fruit notes.

I also tried a demi-sec from Château de Montfort, the Château de Montfort Vouvray Demi-Sec 2013, which was a cooler but more powerful expression. There was a steeliness to the nose with a little grapefruit, lime and citrus.

Moving on to the sweet wines, the Château Moncontour Vouvray Moelleux 2003 had a closed nose initially before opening up to quince and honeycomb. The Nectar de Moncontour 2005 had much more intensity with dried apricots and figs hitting the top notes before finishing with a long, waxy, honeyed tail. There’s impressive integration of flavours and balance of acidity in this rich, liquoreux-style wine.

www.moncontour.com

Château Thénac, Thénac

This is a post in the Spotlight on: Bergerac series

Château Thénac could be said to be its own town. Or at least that’s what it feels like when you find yourself in the village of Thénac, where there are precisely three buildings in its centre – the Château, the Marie (Mayor’s office) and the church.

Château Thénac, Bergerac

The Château itself is split up into the house and the winery.

Although built entirely in the traditional style, almost everything is new – even the vines. Not all the vines, mind.

It’s evident that big changes have been made since the property was bought by a Russian oligarch; that oligarch is none other than Eugene Shvidler, friend and business partner of Roman Abromavich. At the same time, many things have stayed the same. The staff, for example, have been retained.

The estate is a sizeable 200 hectares though only around 50 are under vine. Majority of the wines are your average Bergerac blends though a few odd ball varieties, like Ondenc have been thrown in.

Wines, Château Thénac, Bergerac

The resident chef at the Château is really rather excellent but pining for his food did detract from writing down tasting notes.

It is, however, worth noting that with the changes in the ownership came a change in the style of wine produced. Experimentations are made with the blends as well as the winemaking itself so we should see some more interesting samples coming out in the future. But the downside of being one to watch is that the odd vintage is still experiencing some youthful imbalance.

www.chateau-thenac.com

Spotlight on: the Loire Valley

vineyards by the Loire

The Loire Valley presents as a very interesting wine region because it is at once a fairly large wine region and lots of smaller, separate sub-regions with very distinct identities.

In some respects, it’s one of the most confusing regions in France (because it uses so many different grapes varieties that produce so many different varities of wimes) and one of the simplest (most of the grape varieties tend to stay within the a main region).

There are also two very different ways of looking at the Loire.

The first of these is by looking at separate regions, something that the WSET focuses on a lot and is easy to visualise. The very useful Loire Valley Wines website splits the Loire into Pays Nantais, Anjou, Saumur, Touraine and Centre-Loire. For example, Muscadet, made with Melon de Bourgogne, is produced exclusively in the Pays Nantais area while Centre-Loire’s focus is more on Sauvignon Blanc.

Following on from that, it’s natural to see that the second way of looking at the Loire Valley is through the study of its grapes. Thankfully, unlike Languedoc-Roussillon, there aren’t that many to remember. The main ones are Melon de Bourgogne, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc for whites and Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Grolleau for the reds.

I recently visited the Loire specific to learn more about the expressions of Chenin Blanc there (you can read my Chenin Blanc overview at Yahoo and all about the sweet wines of the Loire Valley, including food and wine matching, at Palate Press). While Savennières, Vouvray and Anjou were all well regarded appellations, the wines that really excited me were the sweet, botrytised wines. I was really pleased to discover wines that, at times, matched, and occasionally, even surpassed, some of the Sauternes I had tasted.

Here are the Chenin-centric properties I visited in the Loire:

Château Moncontour

Eric Morgat at Clos Ferrand

Domaine Bourillon Dorléans

Domaine de la Paleine

Domaine des Forges

Domaine des Roches Neuves

Domaine Ogereau

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