On Bastille Day, July 14, Sue Hill and I competed in a battle of palates in the US Open Wine Tasting Championship. Much to our surprise, we won second place and the opportunity to travel and compete in the World Championships which this year will be held in the Loire (more here). As you can imagine, we are VERY excited! While the Championships take place on Oct 12 , we are a planning on spending almost two weeks in France, with at least several days exploring the Loire and staying near the Château de Chambord where the World Wine Tasting Championships are slated to take place.
Known as the heart of France and as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Loire Valley provides visitors experiences rich in culture and history, natural beauty, magnificent châteaux, great wine.
The Loire Valley is France’s third largest wine-producing region:
- France’s leading region for white wines (read here about sauvignon blanc from Sancerre and Touraine)
- France’s second region for sparkling wines
- France’s second region for rosé wines
Founded in 1519 and celebrating its 500th year, Château de Chambord may be one of the most well-known, but 79 castles, monuments, and places of distinction line the banks of the Loire in the Valley of Kings and offer dazzling architecture and gardens.
Just to the West of the Chateau is the area of Saumur and Anjou. By happy coincidence, the French #Winophiles theme this month is Saumur and Anjou.
While above we noted the area’s production of white, sparkling, and rose wines, the Loire is also famous for Cabernet Franc, particularly in Chinon and neighboring Saumur Champigny which is a special denomination for the finest red wines in the region; the name is thought to come from the Latin phrase “campus igni” or field of fire, because of summer temperatures (guess we should be grateful we are going in October!)
Last month Sue and I chose a bottle of Saumur-Champigny to sample thanks to a suggestion from staff at the Wine House LA. This is our second cabernet franc from the region in 2019; in March when the theme for the Wine Pairing weekend group was Cabernet Franc, we were guided by the Wine House staff to select a wine from that region as well because they are an excellent quality for a reasonable price. For that event, we compared the Cabernet Franc from Loire with three Cabernet Franc from California.
- 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
- 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
Sue found in her research references to game meat paired with the wines of Loire, so she went to the Ventura Meat company to get venison sausages for the sausage puffs (uncased sausages wrapped in puff pastry!), and she also found BOAR BACON!
A big thank you to Gretel for making the potato soup and the trip tip salad for us! The soup and the salad were fabulous! Thank you Bruce for joining us and sharing stories with us about France and winemaking!
2011 – Richard Desouche – le P’tit Domaine – Saumur Champigny – 12.5% alcohol – SRP $35
Purchased at Wine House L.A.
Richard Desouche is known for his minimalist approach in his small lots of elegant, refined, and pure expressions of Saumur and Saumur-Champigny’s terroir.
According to the website of importer Aliane, Richard Desouche is kind, gregarious, and generous. In addiition producing wine under his own label, he works in the vineyard at the nearby Clos Rougeard estate. While he started out with a degree in Business, he soon discovered wine was his calling and studied with his cousin Didier Sanzay, among others,
By 2006 Richard Desouche was making his first wines; he began purchasing land soon there after and converting it to certified organic farming; by 2013 his vineyards were fully certified AB Ecocert organic. For the past ten years, farming in his vineyards has been free of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers.
He now has 4.5 hectares farmed in this way, with this Cab Franc grown on Saumurois, with layers of argilo-calcareous earth covered by gravels and fine, sandy clays. Grapes from the fifty year old vines of Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc are hand harvested into small bins for purity and freshness, vinified with primary fermentation in a used barrel, then an extended elevage in used barrels. His winemaking facility features deep tuffeaux caves.
Color: Medium to light density, and ruby with a pale pink rim, which is surprising for a 2011.
Nose: I got a little bit of bell pepper at first, but was glad that it blew off right away,
Bruce: ” I don’t get a lot of that green bean shit, so that is good.”
Sue: “I love the herbal notes of the wine. Lots of eucptlyus, or minty sage qualities.”
Palate: Super complex! Herbs of Jagermeister without the sweetness. The wine does not stop being smooth no matter how long the evening has lingered attesting to the stability of the wine. Smooth, sensual, and enjoyable.
Bruce: “I love the dryness of European wines. There isn’t any sweetness.”
Me: “This is a bouncy wine, it bounces all around your palate!”
Pairing: Gretel thought it was very interesting with the oil cured olive, but kind of a bit too much. With our venison sausage puffs, this is definitely a hit. Also great with pork country pate. The boar bacon did not stand up to the wine. It was very nice with the Snowdonia smoked aged cheddar, but with the St Agur Blue it was not so great. Maybe if it was on a burger. So much better with a pork, chicken, mushroom mousse pate.
Awesome with the leek potato soup. With the salad, it did not work well with the beets; the beets were just a bit too sweet to handle it, however with the roasted bell pepper in the salad, it was amazing.
With the tri tip and the tomato in the salad I found a richness of a gardenia… so fabulous!
I may not be the fan of Cabernet Franc that Sue is, but I am definitely a fan of this one!
We tasted and compared this wine with these three below which you will be able to read about soon!
2016 – I. Brand & Family – Cabernet Franc – Bayly Ranch – Paicines, California – 12.8% alcohol – SRP $47
a gift to Bruce and Gretel which they graciously shared with us
2017 – Le Grand Bouqueleau – Chinon – 13.5% alcohol – under $15
Gretel bought this at Costco
2016 – Peju – Cabernet Franc – Napa Valley – 14.8%
Gretel bought this when we were on a press trip together to Napa
The Peju was a fruity monstrous beast, but equally as delicious as the bright fruit in the le P’tit Domaine — just entirely different!
At the end of the evening, Sue wanted to continue tasting but she couldn’t take another bite. The wines were so pleasurable and inviting. She felt that the Peju and the Chinon would carry through to dessert, but we did not have dessert on the menu. Sue imagined a hazelnut liquor cream chocolate tart (if not too sweet)
- Cindy, of Grape Experiences, gives us A Taste of the Loire: Domaine Filliatreau Saumur-Champigny 2015 and Sauteed Duck Breasts with Wild Mushrooms.
- Jeff, of FoodWineClick!, serves NOT the Easter Bunny with Wines from Anjou-Saumur.
- Payal, of Keep the Peas, offers up Angevin-oisserie: Chenin Blanc from Anjou.
- Jane, of Always Ravenous, shares What to Pair with Loire Valley Anjou-Saumur Wines.
- Wendy, of A Day in the Life on the Farm, is planning on Korean Pork Tenderloin with Cab Franc from Saumur.
- Gwendolyn, of Wine Predator, is Off to Loire: le P’tit Domaine Saumur Champigny and a Tritip Summer Salad
- Linda, of My Full Wine Glass, says to Make ‘room for Saumur Champigny from the Loire.
- Camilla, of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, shares Lamb, Two Rabbits, and Some Quail with Wines from Anjou-Saumur.
Check out our twitter chat using the hashtag #winophiles this Saturday at 8am when we discuss the following questions:
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 @cookingchat. Watch for 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.
You’d have to wonder how Cab Franc from California (like the Peju and others) are even from the same planet as those from the Loire! Just goes to show how where the grapes are grown matters so much!