Kerry and I continually assess our wines by putting each to the ultimate test: drinking wine with our meals. Over the most recent weekend, we explored, with much satisfaction, several wines from the Loire Valley that do not appear regularly at our home table.
On New Year’s Eve, our quiet celebration was toasted with the Cremant de Loire Rosé from Chateau Soucherie which was frankly better than either of us had anticipated. Bone dry, nicely mineral, quite sophisticated, it remained fresh and intriguing to the bottom of the bottle. Over two subsequent days, we drank the Menetou-Salon Rouge 2012 from Philippe Gilbert and the Anjou Rouge 2013 again from Soucherie. Both wines are stellar in the category.
The latter bottle is a modest wine but solid, clean, with an abundance of character and showing excellent balance, a fine candidate to present to restaurants as a “by the glass” offering at a very reasonable price. We drank it with omelets that I prepared for dinner (stuffed with red & green peppers from last year’s garden sautéed with our own shallots and further dressed with goat cheese and drizzled with acacia honey from the Bianco family with a sprinkle of peperoncini flakes from Armato … and our potatoes cooked on the top of the stove in Armato olive oil married to our garlic and served on the side). It was a lovely pairing … simple food from excellent ingredients served with an honest wine.
The Menetou Rouge was another story … a wine that showed the class and breadth of pinot noir. Although we have had more success commercially with the white wines from the Gilbert domaine, I have often remarked that the terroir of Menetou seems prime for producing a compelling expression of pinot noir. In contrast to the floral, elegant and somewhat fruity red produced by the Crochet family in the Sancerre district, this version from Menetou has a more brooding personality with an earthier and perhaps more profound presence, more muscular and not as light on its feet as is the Sancerre Rouge “Croix du Roy” from Crochet. It proved to be a perfect foil for the poussin we roasted several nights ago, again a dish prepared in a simple manner, the bird being rubbed with rosemary, thyme and a Japanese seven-spice mixture that we came across awhile ago and placed in the oven to cook under a thin blanket of prosciutto.
I mention these wines because each of the three often fly under the radar … appellations that don’t attract much attention but the character and quality and value of which beg for a more prominent public profile … definitely worth a more than occasional presence at anyone’s table.