Saturday, August 16, 2008

Loire Valley Wines… Let Me Count the Ways

Diversity. Character. Expression.

Sounds like it could be a commercial slogan for just about any high market product, no? Add food friendliness to the list and you have four of the many reasons that I love Loire Valley wines. Those factors are all captured in a delicious wine from the Touraine that I enjoyed with dinner this week. It may be my favorite rosé of the year (at least so far).

Touraine Pineau d’Aunis Rosé, Clos Roche Blanche 2007
$15. 12% alcohol. Neocork. Importer: Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.
Diversity? Where else are Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Côt, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc grown right alongside local oddities like Pineau d’Aunis and Menu Pineau? Character? This is seriously distinctive wine that couldn’t come from anyplace else. Expression? The varietal character of Pineau d’Aunis shows through, even in a rosé, where grape variety can often be innocuous. Loire terroir is also expressed; even with the assertive personality of Pineau d’Aunis, there’s still an aspect of delicacy at play, largely thanks to light, refreshing acidity. Food friendliness? I’d be happy to drink a glass of this on its own but, for many, this might demand food. I enjoyed it with a very simple dinner – turkey burgers and a salad – but I could envision this pairing well with anything from poultry to sausages to grilled seafood.

There’s a remarkable match between the wine’s color and one of its dominant flavor elements: watermelon rind. Think of the pale pink watermelon pith left just above the pale green/white of the rind itself. Add to that a generous dash of cracked black pepper and slightly raspy texture and you’ve got a good sense of the wine. It’s rustic and a little awkward but extremely charming, all the same. Air contact and the concomitant slow rise in temperature bring out aromas of fallen leaves and potpourri. If forced to draw a parallel, I’d think of it as a cross between Cabernet Franc and Syrah, though what it really reminds me of is the Fer Servadou, aka Mansois, native to Marcillac in Southwest France. At $15, this is also a welcome example of the fact that many Loire wines continue to provide not just great character but also great value.


Kim - Easy French Food said...

I love the analogy you use to watermelon rind. That's a great descriptive term. I've been blissfully into the Loire Valley the last couple of weeks, and will search out this rosé for this weeks treat. Gotta drink my rosés whilte it's still summertime. Thank you for the review!

David McDuff said...

Welcome, Kim. I'll be curious to hear what you think of it, assuming you're able to find a bottle. BTW, I always like to keep at least a few bottles of rosé around to enjoy throughout winter, just as a reminder of warmer, lighter days.

Joe Manekin said...

Haven't tried this yet, David, but I sure do hope I get a shot at it here across the continent from Louis/Dressner world HQ.

David McDuff said...

Yo Joe,
If it makes you feel any better, I can't get it in PA or DE either. It requires a trip to or order from NY.

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