Wine for the summer

With summer holidays rapidly approaching I’m focusing on the Loire this week, given that so many of us will find ourselves in France in the coming months. 

The Loire is by far the easiest wine region to get to from Ireland by car as driving from either Roscoff or Cherbourg to Angers takes under four hours.

The Loire is one of the few French regions that offers white, rosé, red, sparkling and dessert wines. Admittedly red wines here tend to be lighter and with a more herbaceous character but I have always loved the red fruit freshness of Cabernet Franc-based Anjou-Villages, Chinon or Saumur, especially for drinking in warmer months.

The Loire wine regions begin with fresh zingy Muscadet to the south of Nantes and moving east you enter Chenin and Cab-Franc country in Anjou until you hit Tours and Vouvray. From then Sauvignon Blanc dominates but I confess I get more excited by Chenin than Sauvignon.

Emmanuel Ogereau of Domane Ogereau just south of Angers visited Dublin recently and I tasted my way through his range at his importers — Terroirs in Donnybrook. Emmanuel is the fifth generation at the Domaine and his wines show typicité and character. We began with his lemon zest scented Crémant de Loire Beau de Schinstes which is 80/20 Chenin/Chardonnay. Some Loire fizz is rather tight and dry but this was expansive, fragrant and full-flavoured with good underlying chalky touches.

His two dry whites feature below and I also liked his blackcurrant leaf and red fruit scented Anjou Villages les Tailles (€23.50), and his fuller fruited Cabernet-Sauvignon based Côte de la Houssaye.

Dessert wines are a difficult sell which is a pity given the pleasures they can offer. Ogereau’s Côteaux du Layon (€26.50) had honeyed lemon-pie richness but perfect contrasting acidity; his intense Quarts-de-Chaume (€59.50) showed full botrytis character on the nose — a kind of floral-honey scent tinged with decay — and mouth filling rich dried sweet fruits.

Exploring the sweeter wines of the Coteaux du Layon is best done in situ as few are imported here so if you do make it I recommend you have lunch in the Auberge du Cheval Blanc in Thouracé.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Aldi Exquisite Muscadet, Loire, France — €8.49

Aldi’s Exquisite Collection has some very decent wines given their low price and this is one of my favourites. At this price you wont get much minerality there are good fresh salty lemon aromas and fine clean zingy acidity balanced with apple fruits.

Stockist: Aldi

Bougrier Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, Loire, France — €12.99-13.99

Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire is typically lighter and less intense than that from New Zealand but you will find some wines from here using yeasts that bring out richer flavours. This has ripe gooseberry and apple tinged with lemon and quince flavours with lively freshness and acidity.

Stockists: JJ O’Driscolls, Ardkeen Stores, Baggot Street Wines, Carpenters Castlenock

Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, Domaine de la Vinçonnière 2015 — €15.95

Muscadet is producing some of the more interesting white wines in France these days but the top versions such as Perdrix (Searsons) and Louvetrie (Wines Direct) tend to cost a little more. This has white flowers and citrus aromas with a slight saline edge, crisp, pristine and refreshing.

Stockists: La Touche Greystones, Searsons Monkstown, www.searsons.com

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Domaine Ogereau Anjou en Chenin 2015 — €22.95

This was fermented in large (old) 500 litre barrels which I suspect gave the wine a more expressive character. Floral aromas with dried lemons and a tense, ripe lemon-fruity palate with good grip and acidity. This would work well with shellfish and young goats cheese such as St Tola Ash Log from Co Clare.

Stockist: Terroirs www.terroirs.ie

Domaine Ogereau Savennières Le Clos Grand Beaupréau 2014, Loire — €29.50

Savennières is a small Chenin Blanc vineyard (three hills in fact) on the right (northern) bank of the Loire and in my experience is at its best young or after cellaring for 10 years. This had fine aromas of Parmesan and lemon curd with textured (lightly bruised) apple fruits and lingering fruity intensity.

Stockist: Terroirs www.terroirs.ie

Pensée du Pallus Chinon 2013, Loire — €23.95

From old vine Cabernet Franc (c. 35 years old) but made by a young progressive winemaker. Fine ripe red and black cherry fruits with touches of spicy plums and darker fruits — full and relatively concentrated with a warming ripe fruit finish and a pleasing freshness — serve a little cooler for best results.

Stockists: Corkscrew, Bradleys, Le Caveau www.lecaveau.ie

Aldi Exquisite Muscadet, Loire,France — €8.49



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