Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wine Review: 2010 Domaine des Huards Cour-Cheverny

One of the things I always say about the world of wine is that the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.  There is such an ocean of the stuff out there, so many producers, and the ever changing vintage variations that make each iteration of product different from its predecessors.  And then there are the unexpected varieties, the obscure local grapes that you've never heard of.

French AOC laws dictate what grapes are allowed to be grown in a particular region, along with regulations regarding winemaking techniques and other minutiae.  And once you learn the big, broad strokes of a particular region, you can get a good idea of what to expect.   But what a lot of people don't realize is that within the broad strokes of any given AOC, there are a lot of footnotes and grandfather clauses. 

Such is the case with the wine we discuss today.   While we generally think of the Loire Valley as being dominated by Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, there are small parcels of ancestral varieties that are still hanging on.  The Romorantin grape, once widely cultivated for centuries, has retreated in popularity and has made its redoubt in Cour-Cheverny, a small AOC northeast of the city of Tours.  When I was told of this ancient holdout, a wine I had never heard of, cultivated in only a tiny piece of the immense Loire, I had to try it. 

It has a color of very pale gold and a lovely fragrant nose that suggests citrus fruits and just a hint of something vegetal, or herbal.  It has a weight to it on the palate that is a bit surprising, as it's light coloration didn't suggest a lot of body.  The palate explodes with lemon and bright acidity, but this is tempered by the heavier mouthfeel.  On the finish there is a powerful minerality that lingers for some time. 

This wine could easily be mistaken for a Sauvignon Blanc, but the heavier body would give me pause in a blind tasting.  It is almost as if it is the bastard offspring of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.  It made for a great seafood wine, as we served it with mussels and shrimp.  If you are looking for something interesting and unexpected to serve your guests, and if you can find this, this is a delightful wine and a great conversation starter.   And you can do your part in preserving a heritage grape. 

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