A good crowd tasting Loire Valley wines.

J ean-Pierre Chambas entertained a full house at Wine World Friday night, telling marvelous stories and sharing outstanding wines from the Loire Valley. It’s hard to tell if people come out to taste the great wines he brings, or to hear him talk about wine, food and life. Probably a little of both.

There were many popular wines, including several Sauvignon Blancs in various style, an outstanding Pouilly Fume, a couple of beautiful Pinot Noirs and a nice Muscadet.

Jean-Pierre’s company, Aleph Wines based in Columbia, imports wines from around the world, but it is especially known for great French wines. He says he likes to deal with the top producers in each region and find top quality wines at reasonable prices. He knows his wine, and when he imports it, the wine is almost always outstanding. Friday night was another example of that.

Jean-Pierre Chambas

 

 

He worked his way through 11 wines, mixing up whites and reds, organized by the weight of the wine, not just the color. It was an effective technique. He discussed everything from the temperature at which to serve wine, to the sexiness of wine, to corks vs. screwcaps and to food pairings.* (examples at the bottom of this page)

Dick and Sally Benjamin of Wine World had this to say before the event:   “Our good friend Jean-Pierre Chambas is coming back and he wants to show you wines of the Loire Valley— that charming French region of orchards, gardens and those grand chateaux built by 15th – 16th century royals and nobles—and of course–wonderful wines!  While many consumers think of the Loire only for white wines, many fine reds are produced there as well.  We’ll sample four reds and one rosé and six whites including some of the great classic Loire whites.” 

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Where: Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta, SC
803-279-9522

e-mail: wineworld@wineworldsc.com.
When: Friday, August 17, 2012, 7pm.
Cost: $15 prepaid. $20 at the door if space is available.

The wine lineup.

Here are the wines presented (click to see more):

  1. Chateau de la Chesnaie Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine sur Lies 2010
  2. Joseph Mellot Sauvignon de Loire 2011
  3. Joseph Mellot Rosé de Pinot Noir 2011
  4. Joseph Mellot Pinot Noir du Valle de Loire 2011
  5. Domaine des Mariniers Pouilly Fume (Sauvignon Blanc) 2011
  6. Domaine des Mariniers Chinon Rouge (Cabernet Franc) 2010
  7. Joseph Mellot Sancerre Rouge (Pinot Noir) 2010
  8. Joseph Mellot Sancerre La Chatelenie (Sauvignon Blanc) 2011
  9. Domaine Baumard Savennieres Chenin Blanc) 2008
  10. Le Bois Clair Saumur Champigny (red – Cabernet Franc) 2010
  11. Bougrier Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) 2010

Here are the detailed wine notes:
Chateau de la Chesnaie Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine sur Lies 2010
From: France
Winery: Chateau de la Chesnaie
Year: 2010

Tasting notes: Many people drink this wine as an aperitif. This wine spends some time on the lees, giving it a little more body than many Muscadets. It’s light, crisp, refreshing with great fruit and some acidity. It’s a simple, straightforward wine. Muscadet is the name of the region and the grape. Jean-Pierre warned people not to confuse it with Muscat, a totally different grape and a different type of wine.

Joseph Mellot Sauvignon de Loire 2011
From: Loire Valley, France
Winery: Joseph Mellot
Year: 2011

Tasting notes: Sauvignon Blanc is one of the great grapes of the Loire Valley, described by Jean-Pierre as the home of Sauvignon Blanc. This is a good alternative to Sancerre, at a lower price. It comes from the outskirts of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume so it has some of the same minerality as those wines. Jean-Pierre called it a poor man’s Sancerre. It has a great floral nose, a very elegant wine at the price. This is not like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It is smoother, richer and with less citrus flavor.

Joseph Mellot Rosé de Pinot Noir 2011
From: Loire Valley, France
Winery: Joseph Mellot
Year: 2011

Tasting notes: The wine is a beautiful salmon color in the glass. It’s a nice, pleasant, easy-sipping wine, balanced and with good fruit. Jean-Pierre says Rose should be the state wine of South Carolina, because the state doesn’t have severe winters when you might want a robust red. It’s always a good time to drink Rose.

Joseph Mellot Pinot Noir du Valle de Loire 2011
From: Loire Valley, France
Winery: Joseph Mellot
Year: 2011

Tasting notes: Opening with a wonderful aroma and a pleasant cherry red color, the wine has great fruit and significant body. There’s a little chewiness in the mouthfeel, a little cherry flavor with some minerality. This Pinot is not a powerhouse Burgundy, but a straightforward, simple wine that is great for a normal meal. It would pair well with grilled salmon. “This is exactly what I want,” said Jean-Pierre, “a simple, good wine to go with good food.”

Domaine des Mariniers Pouilly Fume (Sauvignon Blanc) 2011
From: Loire Valley, France
Winery: Domaine des Mariniers
Year: 2011

Tasting notes: This is 100% Sauvignon Blanc with a fuller mouthfeel, like glycerine. There’s a silky quality to the wine, with everything in balance and no sharp edges. This would be great with lobster, or anything delicate with a butter sauce or white sauce.

Domaine des Mariniers Chinon Rouge (Cabernet Franc) 2010
From: Loire Valley, France
Winery: Domaine des Mariniers
Year: 2010

Tasting notes: Very fruity, but not much aroma. Good mouthfeel with tastes of ripe red cherries and plums. Jean-Pierre says to drink this wine young and then wait for the next vintage.

Joseph Mellot Sancerre Rouge (Pinot Noir) 2010
From: Loire Valley, France
Winery: Joseph Mellot
Year: 2010

Tasting notes:

This was more complex than the first Pinot Noir. It is a bright ruby color, but Jean-Pierre said with age it will darken. It’s a fruit forword wine with great aging potential. There’s nothing too heavy in the wine; it’s silky and elegant. It should go well with guinea hen, pheasant, chicken or roast pork. A good acidity gives it some backbone. Jean-Pierre says the next level of Pinot Noir up from this is Burgundy, which makes the finest Pinots in the world.

Joseph Mellot Sancerre La Chatelenie (Sauvignon Blanc) 2011
From: Loire Valley, France
Winery: Joseph Mellot
Year: 2011

Tasting notes: The nose is strong, full of citrus notes. It has a great, silky mouthfeel, with citrus and pineapple flavors. It’s well balanced and with some complexity. It would be good with freshwater fish, something cooked in butter. “This is great with good, simple food,” said Jean-Pierre. “You can’t do much better than that. You don’t always need a three star restaurant.” He also called Joseph Mellot “the king of Sancerre.”

Domaine Baumard Savennieres (Chenin Blanc) 2008
From: Loire Valley, France
Winery: Domaine Baumard
Year: 2008

Tasting notes: This is a huge, dry Chenin Blanc. It starts with a flinty aroma. The taste is balanced and mellow with a little minerality. It’s a wine of some depth and muscle. Jean-Pierre said it had a different personality than the other whites of the evening. “This is a white wine you can keep for 20 years and it will keep getting better,” he said. “Baumard is one of the top producers in the region, if not the best.” You could serve this with oysters and light, delicate seafoods.

Le Bois Clair Saumur Champigny (red – Cabernet Franc) 2010
Targé is our domain’s main vintage: 100% Cabernet Franc, vinified according to the traditional Saumur-Champigny method. Every year, it represents our soil’s character with elegance and harmony. Nice dark purple coulor. Very typical Cabernet nose (earth, pepper, ripe red fruits). Supple, balanced, with silky tannins. The rich aromas are well emphasized: a classic for the Saumur-Champigny AOC. Ideal for grilled meat.–From their Website
From: Loire Valley, France
Winery: Le Bois Clair Saumur
Year: 2010

Tasting notes: It has a fresh fruit nose. It comes from the same Cabernet Franc as the Chinon Rouge, but grown in a different area so the wines are much different. This one has a full, rich mouthfeel, leaving a beautiful sensation in the mouth. It is more tannic and will age well.

Bougrier Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) 2010
From: Loire Valley, France
Winery: Bougrier
Year: 2010

Tasting notes: This is a slight sweet wine made from Chenin Blanc grapes. The sweetness comes from residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation. You could serve it with spicy foods, or Asian food.

 

 

*     Jean-Pierre’s comments on:

Temperature: “When they say serve the wine chilled, they want to numb your tastebuds. Never serve a wine too cold. But when they talk about room temperature they’re talking about places that didn’t have central heating and were very cold. We’re talking 60 degrees. So don’t let the reds get too warm or the whites too cold.”

Bottle closures: “Some of the great wines in the world are finished off with screwcaps. Cork has always been a problem, but something winemakers have relied on for 2-3 centuries. You always have waste with a cork. Thanks to NASA and studies being done, they have developed seals that expand and contract and last a long time. They have found you can make a seal that reacts the same way as cork. One of my suppliers in Burgundy is on the cutting edge, putting Stelvin caps on grand cru Burgundies. But are consumers ready to pay $300 for a bottle with a screwcap? Right now they are resisting more than the producers. I have bottles with corks and with screwcaps, and I want to see for myself how they compare.”

Food pairings and sexiness: “Think about catching a trout and 20 minutes later it’s in the pan. Then you serve it with this wine (Joseph Mellot Sancerre La Chatelenie). If you don’t have an orgasm with that, something’s wrong with you.”

 

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