I often find writing about our most popular everyday wines to be unexpectedly difficult. These wines are beloved by our regular clients, instantly recognizable by label, well-priced, and sell briskly by the case. What more really needs to be said? “Not much,” I thought at first. “I’ll dash this off so I can focus on writing about our more iconic wines.” But I came to realize that this attitude was not only lazy, but wrongheaded, too. Why shouldn’t a wine like Domaine du Salvard’s piquant Sauvignon Blanc—a mainstay on our clients’ tables that’s often referred to as the “Butterfly wine” because of the butterfly on the label—get its due? It’s lip-smackingly delicious vintage after vintage, and there’s plenty of it to go around. Quality in quantity is no mean feat. And there’s always just the right amount of crispness; it’s never flabby or austere. There are citrus notes and grassiness, as any classic Loire Sauvignon Blanc should have, but never to excess. It pairs well with just about everything, and a case can be had for a pretty reasonable price. If that doesn’t deserve high praise I don’t know what does! To that end, I’m christening the Sauvignon Blanc “Unique” an icon of a different sort, an icon of affordability. Its pleasures are open for all to taste and enjoy.
This classic Loire Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with just about everything.
Domaine du Salvard has been a working domaine since 1898, through five hardworking generations of the Delaille family. Today, all forty-two hectares of vineyards are farmed by the capable brother team of Emmanuel and Thierry Delaille, with help from their father Gilbert. To our delight, they have carried on the traditions established by their ancestors, producing a true, classic Cheverny that is both simple and elegant. The Delaille brothers have focused their attention on growing fresh, lively Sauvignon Blanc, deeply rooted in the sand, clay, and limestone plains of northeastern Touraine. Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Cot constitute their red grape holdings, creating youthful reds with great aromatics.
The defining feature of the Loire Valley, not surprisingly, is the Loire River. As the longest river in France, spanning more than 600 miles, this river connects seemingly disparate wine regions. Why else would Sancerre, with its Kimmeridgian limestone terroir be connected to Muscadet, an appellation that is 250 miles away?
Secondary in relevance to the historical, climatic, environmental, and cultural importance of the river are the wines and châteaux of the Jardin de la France. The kings and nobility of France built many hundreds of châteaux in the Loire but wine preceded the arrival of the noblesse and has since out-lived them as well.
Diversity abounds in the Loire. The aforementioned Kimmderidgian limestone of Sancerre is also found in Chablis. Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur boast the presence of tuffeau, a type of limestone unique to the Loire that has a yellowish tinge and a chalky texture. Savennières has schist, while Muscadet has volcanic, granite, and serpentinite based soils. In addition to geologic diversity, many, grape varieties are grown there too: Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne are most prevalent, but (to name a few) Pinot Gris, Grolleau, Pinot Noir, Pineau d’Aunis, and Folle Blanche are also planted. These myriad of viticultural influences leads to the high quality production of every type of wine: red, white, rosé, sparkling, and dessert.
Like the Rhône and Provence, some of Kermit’s first imports came from the Loire, most notably the wines of Charles Joguet and Château d’Epiré—two producers who are featured in Kermit’s book Adventures on the Wine Route and with whom we still work today.
A good doctor prescribed the wine of Nuits-Saint-Georges to the Sun King, Louis XIV, when he suffered an unknown maladie. When the king’s health was restored the tasty remedy enjoyed a vogue at court. Lord, send me a doctor like that!
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