I was thrilled when Alder Yarrow of Vinography, this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday host, selected white Loire wines as the topic for WBW #24. After all, these are some of my very favorite wines. For example there are the stunning wines from producers like Domaine de la Pépière and Luneau-Papin in Muscadet or the Coteaux-du-Layon & Quarts-de-Chaume from Château Pierre-Bise and the Anjou from Mark Angéli of Domaine de la Sansonnière or the Savennières from Domaine du Closel and the Sancerre la Garenne from Fernand Girard.
As gorgeous as these wines are they are relatively obscure to most wine consumers, which is a sad fact as Muscadet is easily the best value white wine available. The Loire makes wines from a long list of grape varietals thought of as second class by the average wine buyer. Chenin blanc, caberent franc, sauvignon blanc, melon (muscadet), gamay, côt (malbec) just don’t seem as regal as chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir to most wine drinkers and, for that matter, most wine writers. On top of that, names like Coteaux-du-Layon and Savennières don’t make good sound bites for marketers. This means not many Americans are pulling corks from bottles of Loire wines and this is truly a shame.
All the producers listed above make extraordinary wines, but they also have one other thing in common - they are all imported by Louis/Dressner. If you want to drink an exceptional white (or red or rosé for that matter) Loire wine you don’t have to remember any unfamiliar place names, you only have to look for the Louis/Dressner label on the bottle and you are guaranteed to find an outstanding wine that perfectly reflects the character of the place it was grown.
Last evening I immensely enjoyed a Louis/Dressner selection, 2005 Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet, Clos des Briords, a single vineyard wine produced from old vines. This wine was nothing short of exceptional with an almost electric minerality and precision. While certainly drinkable now, those who can wait a few years will be well rewarded. By the way, this exciting wine put me back a whopping $10.99.
Joe Dressner, famed internet personality and partner in Louis/Dressner, is as intense and focused as this Muscadet and has assembled the finest portfolio of Loire wines available in the USA. Anyone seeking to experience these wines at their best should seek out his selections. Incidentally, his wines from other French regions are equally compelling.
On my last trip to New York I ordered a bottle of 2002 Savennières from Domaine du Closel. After a confused look from my waiter, it took them about a half hour to find the bottle at the back of the cooler. Apparently it had been a while since anyone ordered a bottle. It was delicous and a relative bargain, but it looks like Joe has a lot more missionary work to do before Savennières becomes a household name.