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08.05.2006

Wine Blogging Wednesday #24 Roundup: Loire Whites

wbw_icon.jpg It was both my pleasure and honor to host the twenty-fourth edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the web's first virtual wine tasting blog-event. For those who are unfamiliar with the event, allow me to provide a brief overview. Each month this event is "hosted" by an individual blogger, who chooses a specific theme. Bloggers become hosts by requesting the opportunity via e-mail from the founder Lenn Thompson. Once the announcement of the them has been made, anyone who would like to participate simply has to taste and blog about a wine on the appointed day (first Wednesday of the month) and notify the host. The host then collects all the entries and writes up a summary of the event.

Which brings us to the summary of this month's event, hosted by yours truly. Lenn contacted me a month or so ago asking me to host again (I was the host of the second ever WBW) and as usual, left the theme up to me. I wanted to keep the theme simple, accessible, yet focused. I quickly settled on white wines from the Loire Valley. It is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, after all, and I happen to have a deep appreciation for the wines of the Loire which are relatively under the radar of the average wine consumer in the United States.

This month we had 27 participants from North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia who drank a wide range of wines, from one end of the valley to the other.

Without further ado, I present our collective interpretation of the whites of the Loire.

WBW#24 - LOIRE WHITES - ROUNDUP

Erin and Michelle of Grape Juice kick us off with their first foray into the wines of the Loire region. They selected a very nice sounding Muscadet in which they detected a slight saltiness or, as the French sometimes say iodé. Despite it being their first time drinking from the Loire, so to speak, they certainly seem to have done their research, digging up all sorts of information about their wine.

Edward at Wino Sapien didn't have to go out and buy a bottle for this event, he already had a bottle of Vouvray that he was looking for an excuse to open. This, of course, made it all the more painful when the wine was corked. Look for Edward standing on the banks of the Loire next month picketing for screwcaps on Vouvray.

There are a lot of small, unique producers in the Loire, and as usual, Jack and Joanne over at Fork & Bottle could be counted on to search one out. Their wine was a unique Sancerre, from some of the steepest vineyards in the Loire.

Our first sparkling entry comes from Ted over at Barley Vine who skipped the Chenin and Sauvignon Blancs and opted to taste a Muscadet Sevre et Maine, which is made from the Melon grape and has a wide range of quality levels. From the sounds of his review this one's a keeper.

Garry Clark at Tales of a Sommelier gets extra points for singing happy Birthday to Wine Blogging Wednesday AND using one of my favorite British English words, naff (translated: lame) in the same paragraph. But he quickly moved on to the serious matter of tasting a very nice-sounding Muscadet "Vielle Vignes" from sixty-year-old vines. That one's going on my shopping list.

Another Loire style gets added to our list in the form of a Vouvray demi-sec from Michelle of My Wine Education who came out of a self imposed blog exile to participate in this month's event. Sounds like things at work have been hectic, but that wine, which rated a yellow smiley face (translated = absolutely loved it!) must have helped.

Sounds like Ed at Tomato Media drank too much of the lower-end Muscadet in his youth to even consider one this month, but he did find a Sancerre that has him headed back to the bottle shop for more instead of his usual local Australian Chardonnay.

True to form, Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once was willing to branch out and try a new French wine, and a Sancerre, despite not liking most French wines OR Sauvignon Blanc. I wish she had more luck with this one, but unfortunately the Brevin Sancerre she chose sounded a bit lackluster.

Sauvignon Blanc has many incarnations in the Loire, and Ryan of Catavino was good enough to go to the effort (apparently considerable in Spain, where he lives) to search out one from a lesser known sub-appellation. Unfortunately even after all that effort, the Cheverny that he found was not to his taste.

Sounds like "A" from Wine in The 'Peg had a lot more luck with the Cheverny that he found, which turned out to be a very tasting sounding blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay at a very attractive price point.

Despite a preference for red wines, Serge the Concierge took the opportunity to cool off in the heat with a little Chenin Blanc courtesy of a dry Vouvray which sounds delightful.

Once of the great things about Wine Blogging Wednesday is the opportunity to learn a lot about a region or style of wine in a very short period of time. I learned something about a new sub-appellation of the Loire thanks to Marcus at Doktor Weingolb who chose a Saint-Pourçain for this month's event. This obscure Chardonnay based wine sounds positively fantastic, and now I have to go find out more info about this Saint-Pourçain place.

This event also is great for the excuse to explore a bit, and Bill at Wine For Newbies did so in the form of both a Sancerre and a Chenin Blanc from Vouvray. He also experienced a typical reaction to some Chenin Blancs, which smell very different than most other whites right out of the bottle.

Jathan from Winexpression dug up a Chenin Blanc from a local store and seems to have unearthed a decent wine, and certainly one that was richer than even he expected. Luckily the price point was right.

If some consumers found it a bit tricky to locate a Loire White, they should try finding an affordable one in Tokyo. Melinda from Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, did eventually manage to find one that she could afford, albeit after a lot of searching. She ended up coming home with a Pouilly-Fume, which she and her husband paired with some seared tuna with good results. As she learned, French wines in Toko are pricey even at the low end, so even though this wine was good, it will not likely be a regular buy.

Catherine from Purple Liquid was already a big fan of Loire wines, especially Chenin Blanc, so she used the event as an excuse to open a very nice bottle of Montlouis sur Loire from a top producer. This lesser known appellation across the river from Vouvray sounds like it's provided a winner in the form of this wine.

Tyler, aka Dr. Vino, didn't have far to go to find a wine to participate this month. Already in Paris, all he had to do was wander down to a local bistro with a fellow blogger in order to find a nice Chenin Blanc from Jasnieres, another lesser known sub-appellation of the Loire. Sounds like the wine was excellent, along with the company.

Ever the good sport, Jeff at The Good Grape joins us this month despite coming clean about knowing very little about French wine. He only narrowly avoided buying a white Burgundy for the event (courtesy of a dopey wine store clerk) but eventually landed on a Cheverny as well that was drinking fine until he decided to start doing a little research about it. That's when the confusion set in, but with time I'm sure that will fade to be replaced a very nice mouthfeel and good finish.

Tim from Winecast joined us this month as well, but unfortunately his site was down when it came time for me to do this wrap-up. Hopefully by the time you read this his site will be operational and we'll all get to see what wine he reviewed. Good luck Tim!

Daniel, despite having a blog called Red Wine With Fish, had no hesitation in drinking a white for this event. He chose our first Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly Fume to pair with a nice quiche and ceasar salad he made. Sounds like it was a winner with the quiche and a loser with the salad, but a definitely a wine to seek out again.

I tried to tell John, aka The Corkdork, that it wasn't an issue when we discovered via e-mail that we were reviewing the same wine for this event, but he wanted to avoid the duplication and instead sought out what sounds like a real winner. John apparently drinks a lot of Sauvignon Blanc at home and so went out and found a new (to him) wine from Quincy that sounds excellent.

I always love it when non-food, non-wine bloggers get in on the action for these virtual tasting events. One of my readers, Whit, who runs a blog called Inferior Good (which, to be fair, occasionally delves into wine and wine related subjects) joined us this month. He ended up drinking something different than he wanted to, but in the hands a helpful (if disorganized) wine shop, he came home with a Savennieres that he seems to have enjoyed immensely. Perhaps he liked it enough to make Wine Blogging Wednesday a regular event on his blog.

Craig over at Wine Camp isn't shy about what he thinks of a certain Loire wine: "Muscadet is easily the best value white wine available." Well then. There's a gauntlet thrown down if I've ever seen it. I won't be picking it up looking for a fight, but I might be searching out the very nice sounding old vine Muscadet that Craig drank this month.

James, who doesn't have a blog, nonetheless found a way to participate in this month's tasting by posting his tasting note on a wine community site that he uses (and maybe runs?). James and his wife had never tried a Chenin Blanc from France and went out to find a Vouvray for the event. It sounds like they got a demi-sec Vouvray, as it was a bit sweet to their taste, but as James correctly points out, they might want to try it with Asian food next time.

I also like to welcome Rebeca, who runs the blog HappyBox, as another non-food, non-wine blogger who has joined us for this installation of Wine Blogging Wednesday. She gamely strode into relatively unfamiliar territory by trying a non-appellation designated Loire Sauvignon Blanc this month. Sounds like she and her spouse didn't quite know what to make of it, but it has prompted further exploration of the French whites section at their local bottle shop, so it couldn't have been that bad.

Deep in his heart, I think Andy from Spittoon.biz really wanted to drink a red wine from the Loire for this one, but eventually he managed to find a wine from yet another of the lesser known small sub-appellations in the Loire. After more than a few audible expletives in the store, he and his new French roommate brought home a Sauvignon Blanc from the Coteaux du Gennois, which sits across the river from Sancerre and which, if this wine is any measure, produces some pretty good stuff.

Jennifer from Taste Everything Once is actually going to be tasting her wine twice. Apparently the bottle of Quincy that her local shop helped her choose was good enough for a repeat purchase, and will be paired with a future meal at her house or in a restaurant out in Spokane.

Founder and animating spirit of Wine Blogging Wednesday, Lenn of Lenndevours was no slouch when it came to this edition. He briefly contemplated breaking the rules but eventually realized the folly of such a path, and instead drank a nice sounding Vouvray which sounds like it also had a tiny bit of residual sugar to it. Lenn recommends this one chilled down nice and cold, no doubt partially because of the brutal temperatures lately in New York.

As for me, this month I sought out a nicely aged Chenin Blanc from the Savennieres appellation.

That's it for the twenty fourth issue of Wine Blogging Wednesday! Thanks to all who participated, all those who read (and will read) and comment on the various reviews from all over the world. Look for the announcement of WBW#25 soon, and why not consider participating?

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