After my post about tasting sparkling wines at the Salon des Vins de Loire, brooklynguy brought to my attention the fact that none of these wines are actually available in the United States. So here are a few of my favorite wines of the past week that Americans can actually buy. (I’m not including any barrel samples or other unfinished wines. Also, if these specific vintages aren’t there yet, they will be soon.)
Particularly Superb and Delicious Wines Under $15
Jean-François Mérieau Touraine Gamay Le Bois Jacou 2006
This is one of my very favorite Loire gamays. Bright, crisp and fragrant, it just makes you want to drink more. A solid ten on the slurpability scale.
Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Clos des Allées VV 2006
I’m not a huge fan of 2006 Muscadet, but the Clos des Allées stands out for its pure fruit and crystalline minerality. As in every vintage, its soil expression is simply gorgeous.
Henry Marionnet Touraine Sauvignon 2007
Marionnet is better known for his powerful (and excellent) wines from old, ungrafted vines, but his entry-level sauvignon blanc is delicious, full of flinty, grapefruity, sweetly herbal aromas.
Wines That I Absolutely Loved, Irrespective of Price
François Chidaine Montlouis Brut non-dosé 2005
I always love Chidaine’s sparkling wines, but they can be too austere for some people. The 2005 combines a rich, full ripeness with mineral intensity, feeling rounder and more complex than usual.
Thomas-Labaille Sancerre Les Monts Damnés 2006
The ’06 vintage was a great one for sauvignon, and this is classic Monts Damnés in its sleekly racy structure and smoky, stony fragrance. Its pure expression of soil makes the fruit seem almost incidental.
Vincent Carême Vouvray Le Peu Morier 2006
Carême’s wines always feel so balanced and effortless. This demi-sec, or perhaps sec tendre, is full of sweetly ripe apricot and pear flavors, showing harmonious depth and subtle, fragrant length.
The Very Best: Utterly World-Class Wines
Damien Laureau Savennières Le Bel Ouvrage 2005
This is the greatest ’05 Savennières I have tasted (and I’ve tasted many, including those from You Know Who). It’s rich and concentrated yet thrives on a marvelous clarity and finesse, feeling energetic and tense under the ripe fruit. The finish is absolutely regal.
François Chidaine Montlouis Moelleux 2005
You’d predict this wine to be great, but this exceeded all my expectations. It’s wines like these that account for the high reputation of the ’05 vintage. Made mostly by passerillage, with only a little botrytis, this shows such subtle, layered complexity of flavor, filling the palate with seamless harmony and astonishing grace.
Dard et Ribo Crozes-Hermitage 2006
OK, I know it’s not from the Loire, but this was one of the finest wines I drank all week, so it gets included here. It’s one of those rare wines that feel truly alive, like a living organism, and its sense of purity and dimension on the palate are breathtaking. Plus, it smells like the greatest bacon you’ve ever tasted.