Summer in a Glass: Sauv Blanc from Touraine, Sancerre, Santa Paula CA

3 Sauvignon Blanc from Loire and Ventura County, CA

So how did we really win a spot on the US Open Wine Tasting Team AND a trip to Loire, France in October, where, with ay luck, we will taste sauvignon blanc to our hearts content for at least a day or two?

Credit in part goes to a Loire tasting we did a week or so ago with Bruce Freeman and Gretel Meys Compton at their home in Santa Paula Canyon.

One of the wines in the competition was a sauvignon blanc from Sancerre, Loire, and as we had recently compared two from Loire with one from California, plus the white wine we chose to calibrate our palates was a sauvignon blanc, we nailed this one of the six white wines.  It was actually fun during the competition to talk it over with Sue to determine what the wine was, and we were very confident. (We scored correctly on the buttery obviously California Napa Chardonnay as well as other points on a few of the other white wines but those points were not as satisfying!)

Winemaker Gretel Meys Compton in the South Mountain Santa Paula CA vineyard with a bottle of the 2017 Sauvignon blanc.

A key element to winning a competition like this is tasting varietals side by side from different countries and regions — something we love to do and do all the time! At the competitions, points are awarded based on varietal, country, region, year, and producer. Read more about the World Wine Tasting Championship rules here.

So why were we tasting wines from Loire with Gretel and Bruce at their house after visiting their South Mountain Vineyard in Santa Paula??

This month the French Winophiles are doing wines from Anju and Samour, in the heart of the Loire valley. But we thought it would be fun to go all out for Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc, two of the signature wines from the Loire, and turn this into three posts with the first featuring Sauv Blanc, a second doing the Saumur Cab Franc for Winophiles, and a third with a Cab Franc focus with wines from Chinon and two from California.

Because there is nothing like comparing and contrasting wines to understand what you’re tasting. And that’s what got us on the US Wine Tasting Team.

All three of these Sauvignon Blancs were so very different, but so good in their own way.


  • Cheese plate:
    Fresh goat cheese, d’Afinois,  St Agur blue, aged gouda, aged smoked gouda, pork country pate, pork/chicken/mushroom mousse pate,  sliced Anjou pear
  • Oysters
  • Venison sausage puffs
  • Potato leek soup soup with boar bacon topping
  • Roasted root vegetable salad with tri tip and feta cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette

Thank you Sue, for the cheese plates– one in the vineyard to focus on the sauvignon blanc and one at Gretel’s to go with all of the wines! And for finding the BOAR BACON at the Ventura Meat Company!

Thank you Gretel for making dinner for us! The soup and the salad were fabulous! Thank you Bruce for joining us and sharing stories with us about France and winemaking!


2016 – Domaine Paul Buisse – Touraine – Sauvignon Blanc – 12.5% alcohol – SRP under $15
Sample for my review consideration; this wine is available at Whole Foods

“Shame on him who fails to admire my joyful, beautiful and plucky Touraine, whose seven valleys flow with water and wine.” Honoré de Balzac

The Domaine is over 100 years old and has been a family business for four generations that started with barrels of table wine being sold door to door by house drawn carriage. Today it’s owned by the Chainier family which got its start in wine in Bordeaux in the 18th century. Chainier House was established in 1973 in the Loire.

The Domaine offers workshops, tours, and tastings: “Because wine tasting awakens all your senses, starting with sight, which you use to describe the colour, then the nose and finally the palate: sweet, savoury, bitter, acidic, aromas of red fruits, vanilla, green apple, brioche, leather… There are so many ways to describe it! Discover the influence of grape variety and terroir, the role of the wine grower and oenologist in creating the wine, and how to establish the way a wine matches a particular type of dish. Depending on which topic you choose, you will have the opportunity to taste and describe 5 or 6 wines of different colours.” Workshops include:

  • Introduction to tasting the Loire wines
  • Matching wines to dishes
  • Tasting a grape variety grown in different terroir or different vintages.

Interested? Contact them here. And I think we will! This sounds exactly up our “alley”!

Color: Daffodil, golden.

Nose: Grassy, cat pee, gooseberry, anise.

Palate: Lemony, crisp, creamy mouthfeel, nice and bright, very smooth.

Bruce: “Grapefruit is a good thing, but I think it is a bit heavy on the grapefruit, could be a little bit dirty on the finish.”

Pairing: Sue did not like the oysters with this wine at all. She felt it fought a hard battle. However, with the goat cheese, both Sue and I agreed that it was a fabulous pair. The wine went nicely with the leek potato soup because it brings out the earthy, nutmeg,  salty characteristics in the soup.

What a beautiful pairing with the soup!

There was a nice chunky texture in the soup that worked with the wine, and the boar bacon kicks it over the top making all three wines very vibrant. The soup has everything that you want.


2017 – Clos des Amis – Sauvignon Blanc – Ventura County, California – 13% alcohol – SRP under $20
Bruce and Gretel contributed this wine.

Color: Pale buttercup, little more color than straw, golden, pale

Nose: When first opened there is fresh citrus and lemon. This dissipates after being open for a while. Gwen, “I’m getting some butterscotch like when you put your nose in a Jefferey pine. The smell of pineyness.

This fruit is grown on a diotomatious hillside, dry farmed, minerality with a nice roundness.

Palate:  Bright minerality, nice creaminess, citrus. It developed in a very interesting way; over time, I got  more butterscotch over grapefruit.

Winemaker Bruce: “It is a Ventura County Sauvignon Blanc. It shouldn’t taste like anything else.”

Very nice finish, very balanced, it hangs out for a while with nice acidity, but it is not too tangy, mineralistic. It hangs out on your palate for a while, inviting yourself to come back for more.

Pairing: Great with oysters, goat cheese and bread. The goat cheese brings out a brightness in the wine. The oysters have a creaminess and the wine is bright and beautiful. The ocean salinity and the crisp brightness of the wine is a beautiful harmonious pairing. Nicoise olives went nicely with the wine as well.

2016 –Pascal Jolivet – Sancerre – 12.5% alcohol – SRP $33
I purchased this on sale at Vons.

While there is no indication that we noticed on the label, Pascal Jolivet practices biodynamic winemaking and “views the farm as a cohesive, interconnected living system; such practices extend from the vineyard to the careful handling of the fruit post-harvest in the winery. In Jolivet’s winery following harvest, vinification begins with light must settling followed by juice fermentation with indigenous yeasts; next maturation on lees is fundamental for the concentration and the complexity of all Jolivet wines.  The process is extremely natural and the slow fermentations nourish and sustainably stabilize the wines using very low levels of sulphur.”

The grapes were grown on 50% limestone, 30% limestone clay, and 20% flint and “vinified separately in thermo-regulated stainless steel tank. Limestone brings minerality and finesse. Limestone clay enhances fruit and richness. Flint provides structure and minerality,” according to the Pascal Jolivet website.

Definitely need to visit this winery when we get to Loire because — get this — the estate is surrounded by the Châteaux de Cheverny and Chambord where the World championship will be held!

Color: Pale straw, yellow gold,

Nose: I got a lot of grapefruit as did Gretel. Bruce found the cat pee, goose berry thing. Sue agreed with all of us.

Palate: Sue found fennel right off the bat while my teeth ached a bit from the acidity.” This is the style of wine Bruce would like to make. Nice and bright and full of character (like Bruce!)

Sancerre is such a cute little village, says Bruce. There are such narrow roads that even a small little compact car has trouble navigating.

((SUE!! We have to go there when we go to Loire!!))

Pairing: With a piece of goat cheese, I found that I’d never had goat cheese so creamy as it was paired with this wine; fine with a dafinoisse.

Wow pairing with oysters, a beautiful pairing with the soup, and it went perfectly with the salad — the balsamic vinegarette was perfect with the crisp brightness of the wine.

Sue wanted a Nicossice salad with this wine because it went so well with the nicouisse olives. The brine and the wine, the acids and the acids, perfect!

This is an awesome all around food wine! Which I already knew because I bought about six bottles of it on sale at Vons and this was my last bottle! I didn’t want to give it up but I’m glad I did because I think this is what got us to the US Team!

So get some summer in your glass and enjoy! Cheers!

PS This Saturday join our twitter chat about wines from the Anjou-Saumur region of the Loire led by host @Culinary_Cam by following the hashtag #winophiles:

7/20/2019 11:00 a.m. EST  

Welcome to the #Winophiles chat on Anjou-Saumur! Introduce yourself, and where you are tweeting from. Share a link to your blog if applicable.


7/20/2019 11:07 a.m. EST

Q1 So we are talking about the Mid-Loire this morning, specifically Anjou and Saumur, for today’s #Winophiles. Have you ever visited the region? Tell us what you thought.


7/20/2019 11:14 a.m. EST 

Q2 If Anjou were known for one wine style, it would have to be Rosé. Did you pour a Rosé from Anjou? Share a link to your blog if you wrote on the topic today. #Winophiles


7/20/2019 11:21 a.m. EST 

Q3 Saumur is sparkling wine country with this region being the Loire’s biggest producer of bubbles! Did you pour a sparkling from Saumur? Share a link to your blog if you wrote on the topic today. #Winophiles


7/20/2019 11:28 a.m. EST 

Q4 If you didn’t pour an Anjou Rosé or a Saumur sparkling, what did you pour? Share a link to your blog! #Winophiles


7/20/2019 11:35 a.m. EST 

Q5 What did you serve with your Anjou-Saumur wine? How did the pairing fare? How did the flavors in the food complement your wine? Share a link to your blog if you wrote on the topic today. #Winophiles


7/20/2019 11:42 a.m. EST 

Q6 If you didn’t make any food for this month’s #Winophiles, what DID you pair with your Anjou-Saumur wines? Thinking of cheese pairings, perhaps. How did the flavors in the food complement your wine?


7/20/2019 11:49 a.m. EST 

Q7 There are some interesting indigenous grapes being cultivated in the area. Did you, or have you, tried any of these: Arbois, Pineau d’Aunis, or Grolleau? What did you think? #Winophiles


7/20/2019 11:50 a.m. EST 

Just a shoutout to the #Winophiles bloggers who posted about Anjou and Saumur today. Cheers! @GrapeExp_Cindy @foodwineclick @WendyKlik @ArtPredator @linda_lbwcsw @culinary_cam 


7/20/2019 11:57 a.m. EST 

Q8 #Winophiles Any final thoughts about Anjou-Saumur? Did you learn something new about the region, the wines, the food? Do tell!


7/20/2019 11:59 a.m. EST 

Next month #Winophiles will be focusing on French Basque Country hosted by David @foodwineclick. Can’t wait to see the invitation.


7/20/2019 12:00 p.m. EST 

Thanks for joining the July #Winophiles chat as we talked about the mid-Loire wine regions of Anjou and Saumur. Hope you enjoyed! Cheers.



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