Yesterday I took a whirl wind trip to the big apple for trade tasting featuring, among other things, the wines of Louis/Dressner, one of the cutting edge Loire focused importers. The tasting was held at the Puck building, a common venue for many of Manhattan wine events and the perfect building to hold the thousand odd attendees. Many of you may be asking yourself, Loire? Yes, the Loire Valley producers are poised to be the next hot thing in our business and I wanted to catch a sneak peek.
The Loire Valley is a large appellation that runs on the banks of the Loire River, which begins in the Central Massif and runs to the Atlantic Ocean, near the town of Nantes. It is not totally accurate but for simplicity sake you can divide the region into three main areas that focus on different types of wines. On the far west end you have the area known for the production of Muscadet, a dry, minerally wine perfectly suited to the consumption of shellfish. In the central area the dominant white grape is Chenin Blanc, used in the production of dry and sweet wines. Finally as you move east you enter the epicenter of Sauvignon Blanc production with villages like Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume.
In this region you have a number of small, family run wineries that are focusing more on quality than quantity, which has been the MO since WWII. Most of the leading producers are focusing on organic viticulture, many even embracing the biodynamic model of farming. They are also taking the steps that have become common in many other parts of Europe, lowering yields, planting cover crops and picking later. The results are wines that maintain the fine crystalline structure of the area but with a bit more plumpness and texture. I tasted over one hundred wines yesterday, most were very good and a few were exceptional. Look for these offerings to start hitting shelves in early to mid-summer.
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