If Sauvignon Blanc is the best-known white variety in France’s vast Loire Valley, with Sancerre the most famous example, the Chenin Blanc grape also gives us some of the region’s most beautiful wines.
Chenin Blanc is the dominant white variety in the Middle Loire, producing wines that range from dry to sweet to sparkling, and the most important appellation here is the world-renowned Vouvray near the city of Tours.
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Lesser known but equally exciting is the small appellation of Mountlouis-sur-Loire, which lies just across the Loire River from Vouvray. It is here that Lise and Bertrand Jousset farm 27 acres and produce some of the best Chenin Blancs I have tasted.
Their newest Chenin Blanc release is the 2017 “Premier Rendez-vous.” I’m not sure of the significance of the name (first meeting), but if this happens to be your first taste of Chenin from the Loire, I think you’ll find it a stunning introduction.
The grapes are from very old and newer vines that grow in clayey flint and sandy soils and are farmed biodynamically. Fermentation takes place in large oak barrels followed by aging in stainless steel tanks.
The result is a bright and nuanced $35 wine dominated by stone fruit and lively citrus aromas and tastes. “Like biting into a ripe white peach,” I wrote in my notes. There’s a good deal of orange along with some tropical fruit notes, punctuated by a hint of exotic spices, including cinnamon. A vanilla layer rounds things off.
This is a lovely wine to sip with appetizers and to pair with all kinds of lighter dishes in spring, summer, and beyond.