Event Report: Taj Boston Loire Valley Tasting

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Last Wednesday, the Loire Valley Wine Bureau hosted a tasting on the top floor of the Taj Boston. What a venue to taste through an interesting collection of wines, and meet some great people. I had the pleasure of meeting the following folks from the Boston wine community for the first time:

Judging from the wines presented at the tasting, the most popular wines from the Loire Valley are made from Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé), Chenin Blanc (Vouvray) and Cabernet Franc (Chinon and Bourgueil).

I'd estimate that close to 75% of the wines at the tasting were white, so if you're more into red wines at this point this region may not be for you. With the exception of their earthy (and sometimes downright barnyardy) Cab Francs, there isn't much red wine to speak of from the region.

I enjoyed tasting through the Sauvignon Blanc based wines from Sancerre and Pouily-Fumé. Not a whole lot of difference between the two, but a huge difference between these wines and Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Whereas SB from New Zealand is more pungent, these wines are more restrained aromatically. On the palate, they have wonderful minerality and acidity- very food friendly.

They say these wines are a value play, but unfortunately New Zealand is hard to undercut on price in this category. You can get a really tasty bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for around $10-12. Still, if you're more of an old world type these are the benchmark by which all Sauvignon Blancs are measured.

Recommendation: Try a Sancerre in the $15-20 range if you like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc but are looking to switch it up a bit or serve it with a light dinner.

I've enjoyed Vouvray in the past, and the ones I tasted at this event were no exception. Such an intriguing, multi-faceted wine. One I tasted in particular brought some amazing asparagus/vegetable components, but at their core the wines were more fruity and flavorful than the Sauvignon Blancs. More of a crowd pleaser I think.

Recommendation: Definitely try a bottle of Vouvray next time you see one in the store. It shouldn't be hard to get a good one for $15.

I only tried a few of the Cabernet Franc-based reds at the tasting. They weren't nearly as barnyard the first one I tried (which was so funky that I'm still avoiding the category). The wines I tried were reasonably enjoyable, although I'm in no hurry to seek them out. I'm still hard pressed to pass along a recommendation in this category.

Recommendation: Watch this Wine Library TV episode to learn more about what to expect from Loire Valley Cab Franc.

Question of the Day: What do you think of Loire Valley wines? A source of value in France? A category you'd like to learn more about? Been there/done that?


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