The Loire Valley in France is composed of many appellations, both large and small, so instead of focusing on one (good luck finding six bottles of Savennières at your local shop), we tasted a variety of white wines from across the region.
Wines were tasted geographically, starting from the mouth of the Loire in the west (Muscadet), to the eastern end (Pouilly-Fumé), and while we knew what appellation each bottle was from, we still kept the bottles behind brown paper bags to ward off any producer or price bias.
The Vouvray and Cheverny were the least liked of the night, but everyone highly enjoyed the Menetou-Salon and the Pouilluy-Fumé, which Josephine described as "transparent" and "articulate". And the Muscadet was the best value of the night, offering a clean style that paired well with many foods.
Notes below are listed in the order poured.
Domaine de la Louvetrie Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Hermine d'Or Sur Lie 2010. Andy found scents of "salt & butterscotch", while others noted white grapefruit, honeysuckle, wet stone, and grass. Fresh and crisp, with flavors of gooseberry, watermelon rind, fresh herbs, and granny smith apple, then ground up oyster shells on the finish. Andy described it as "super-happy", and Ali felt that it was reminiscent of "a dirty Sauvignon Blanc - in a good way". David felt that it was "very inviting". Made from organic Melon de Bourgogne grapes. Andy's bottle. About $14.
Cave de Saumur Saumur Les Pouches 2011. Smelled of raw pumpkin, heavy cream, cream soda, white truffles, pebbles, and hints of orange creamsicle. Josephine noted a scent of "cantaloupe that's gone a little off", and Kristin found "light skunk". Tasted of honeydew, tarnished silver, artificial sweetener, tart apples, and bubble gum on the short finish. Ali was left disappointed, and Kristin found it "simple". Had a strong attack, but goes away quickly. Gets much better with air/time, but still a bit flat, with Josephine saying that it "redeemed itself". Better with the meats. Made from 100% Chenin Blanc. David's bottle. About $13.
Marc Brédif Vouvray Classic 2010. Funky nose that included notes of banana, acetone, plastic, and wet concrete. Josephine immediately exclaimed, "whoa, diaper!", and "baby poo", while Kristin found "mostly skunk". Off-dry and totally different than the nose. Josephine was reminded of "lemon candy with a fizz", with Ali noting "lime gummy candy". Hartwell chimed in saying that it "reminds me of eating a Life Saver". David felt that it "finishes with a taste that makes me want to drink water". Ali's bottle. About $20.
Christian Venier Cheverny Les Carteries 2010. Tasters were reminded of vanilla extract, citron, tea, and salt on the nose. Josephine described it as "sweetened cream cheese", and David countered with "bad milk". Andy noted "burnt honey", with Hartwell finding "vinegar puke" and "vitamin water". Tastes like it smells, but also very fruity, with flavors of figs, raisins, butter, root beer, lemon-herb Ricola, and artificial vanilla. Has a touch of sweetness. Uniformly disliked and flat. Kristin's bottle. About $16.
Domaine Philippe Gilbert Menetou-Salon 2011. Complex and fresh nose, featuring green pepper, wet pebbles, tropical fruit (guava, pineapple), grass, and clementines. Intriguing, with white grapefruit, ginger, and lemon flavors that grew with time in the glass. Ali noted "red hots on the finish", and David felt that it had "real clarity and focus". Very enjoyable, with added limestone notes. Josephine thought it was "like a mountain lake", to which Hartwell added, "Yeah, I could swim in this". Josephine's bottle. About $28.
Régis Minet Pouilly-Fumé Vieilles Vignes 2011. Orange rind, lemon zest, damp earth, smoke, pencil eraser, celery, and lemon curd on the nose. Andy found scents of "fresh tennis ball", and felt that it was "dark and mysterious". Kristin detected "some B.O.", and Josephine thought that it was "a little dangerous". David felt that it was an "intriguing, interesting wine". Complex, with long finish. With time, more classic Sauvignon Blanc notes show up. Hartwell's bottle. About $25.
Nita 2008 (Priorat). Tasters found scents of olives, hard earth, herbs, granite, and slate, but in the mouth, more dense fruit notes were evident. Dominated by dense black cherry, plum, and licorice flavors. David felt that it was "wonderful, full of intensity and elegance at the same time". From David's cellar. About $25.