- Featured in this issue
Summer is still upon us (for us Northern Hemispherers, anyway) and it’s nice to focus on those wines that not only deliver great flavors, but also slake our warm weather desires. Sancerre and its sister Pouilly-Fumé are terrific perennial pleasers, offering some of the very best Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Located on the eastern (Upper) end of the Loire Valley, these regions put varietal Sauvignon Blanc on the map. The limestone, gravel and flint (silex) soils produce grapes that make wines which can be racy, pungent and dry, and above all, offer a completely satisfying and thirst quenching experience. The flavors of these wines strike a delicate balance between fruity and herbal and tend to be more grassy than those of their New Zealand counterparts, with Pouilly-Fumé showing a “gun-flint” aroma at times. Both oaked and unoaked versions are available, the former a recent attempt to modernize the wines (and with varying degrees of success). This is not a wine to hold onto for very long, though Pouilly-Fumé can be more long lived than Sancerre, so take advantage of the season and pair them with just about anything under the sun – quite literally – they’re extremely food friendly. Or bring one out on the deck while you’re grilling that fresh seafood you caught this morning (lucky you).
The eccentric and controversial Didier Dagueneau, widely known as the best producer in Pouilly-Fumé, makes wine in the tiny town of Saint-Andelain. He cultivates about 28 acres there. According to the winery’s literature, he literally is on a crusade to redeem the reputation of authentic Pouilly-Fumé and openly criticizes neighbors who overproduce. He takes the media on tours of his meticulous vineyards. He once even sent photocopies of his bill for the workers who hand-harvested his vineyards to prove that he is "the real deal." Dagueneau attends to every detail, from vineyard management (biodynamic since 1993) to the cellar. Dagueneau goes way beyond the regulations of the appellation, pruning severely, de-budding, de-leafing, thinning clusters, and keeping low yields.
“Pur Sang” translates to “thoroughbred” (an artistically rendered horse graces the label). This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and is barrel fermented (with amazing degrees of success!). Dagueneau believes that Sauvignon Blanc is a complex and subtle grape and can be as noble as white Burgundies. He manages very well to prove it year after year. This wine is herbal, citrusy and floral, with a distinct mineral quality and a very long finish and consistently wows the critics. Pairing foods couldn’t be easier. The classic partnering with goat cheese immediately comes to mind, but so much else will work, from pasta primavera to grilled octopus. Not cheap. About $70 USD. (Importer: Polaner Selections)
Catalog this wine in The Personal Wine Curator cellar software like this:
- Region: Loire Valley
- Country: France
- Body: Medium
- Drink after: 2007
- Drink by: 2012
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So why do we drink white wine cold? Or red wine relatively warm? The exact reasons for this generalization can be debated, but there are some basic scientific facts associated with the tradition. Some white wines are actually better warmer and some red wines are better colder. It’s certainly true that temperature has an enormous effect on how a wine tastes. If you’ve ever brought along a bottle of red Bordeaux for a backyard barbeque on a hot summer day, you’ve most likely discovered the error of your ways quite viscerally (and the plastic cup didn’t help any either). However, excessive heat excepted, the higher the temperature, the more easily the flavor compounds evaporate from the surface of the wine. So, if you want to maximize the aromas, it’s a good idea to serve your wine on the warmer side. And what if you don’t want those aromas maximized? Well, when a wine’s temperature is lower, the opposite happens – fewer flavors evaporate. This is a good reason to serve many inexpensive wines of lower quality chilled, no matter the color. Temperature also has an effect on the palate in other ways, including our perception of sweetness, tannins and even bubbles. So, be brave when weathering your wines – maybe try a Malbec chilled in these waning days of August – you might just like what you taste. And your taste is the only undisputable fact when enjoying a glass of wine.
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