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Jean-Francois Merieau L'Arpent des Vaudons 2012
The winery is based on a rich history that stretches back for generations. It’s not unusual to see three generations in the winery at the same time. Much of the winery and tasting room is in a cave that was carved during the time of the Knights Templar (14th century). The “new” structure that houses many of the tanks was used by American soldiers during World War I and some left inscriptions on the walls.
The wines, however, are anything but old-fashioned. The Sauvignon Blanc bottlings benefit from the rich clay and limestone soil and are exotic and often rich with underlying brightness and acidity. The old vine Gamay and Cot are snappy with delicious, lingering fruit. The sparkling is hand-harvested, vintage Touraine with little dosage. It’s the real deal in Touraine.
Stretching east along the steep banks of the Loire River, Touraine is a major part of the Middle Loire. Soil variations of clay, sand, tuffeau and gravel throughout its subregions support both white and red varieties. Chinon and Bourgueil remain the source of Loire’s finest Cabernet Franc; various styles of the most outstanding Chenin blanc come from Vouvray and Montlouis.
A crisp, refreshing variety that equally reflects both terroir and varietal character, Sauvignon blanc is responsible for a vast array of wine styles. However, a couple of commonalities always exist—namely, zesty acidity and intense aromatics. The variety is of French provenance, and here is most important in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. It also shines in New Zealand, California, Australia and parts of northeastern Italy. Chile and South Africa are excellent sources of high-quality, value-priced Sauvignon blanc.
In the Glass
From its homeland In Bordeaux, winemakers prefer to blend it with Sémillon to produce a softer, richer style. In the Loire Valley, it expresses citrus, flint and smoky flavors, especially from in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. Marlborough, New Zealand often produces a pungent and racy version, often reminiscent of cut grass, gooseberry and grapefruit. California produces fruity and rich oak-aged versions as well as snappy and fresh, Sauvignon blancs, which never see any oak.
The freshness of Sauvignon Blanc’s flavor lends it to a range of light, summery dishes including salad, seafood and mild Asian cuisine. Sauvignon Blanc settles in comfortably at the table with notoriously difficult foods like artichokes or asparagus. When combined with Sémillon (and perhaps some oak), it can be paired with more complex seafood and chicken dishes.
Along with Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc is the proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. That green bell pepper aroma that all three varieties share is no coincidence—it comes from a high concentration of pyrazines (an herbaceous aromatic compound) inherent to each member of the family.