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Veuve du Vernay Brut Blanc de Blancs (1.5L)
Praised for its stately Renaissance-era chateaux as well as its diverse variety of wines, the picturesque Loire valley produces elegant and underrated red, white, and rosé as well as sparkling and sweet wines. Just south of Paris, the appellation lies along the river of the same name and stretches from the center of France to the Atlantic coast. Geography and climate differ greatly along the Loire’s vast length. Furthest inland, the climate is continental, becoming classically maritime as it reaches the ocean. Accordingly, the Loire Valley is perhaps the most diverse wine-producing region in France—this region does a little bit of everything, and it does it all quite well.
The Loire can be divided into three main growing areas, from west to east: the Lower Loire, Middle Loire, and Upper/Central Loire. The Pay Nantais region of the Lower Loire is focused on acidic, saline whites that beg for fresh seafood. Muscadet, made from the Melon de Bourgogne variety, is the most noteworthy appellation here. The Middle Loire contains Anjou, Saumur, and Touraine. In Anjou, Chenin Blanc reaches its zenith, producing outstanding dry and sweet wines reminiscent of crisp apples dipped in honey. Cabernet Franc dominates red and rosé production here, supported often by Grolleau and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sparkling Crémant de Loire is a specialty of Saumur. Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc are common in Touraine as well, along with Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, and Malbec (known locally as Côt). The Upper Loire is Sauvignon Blanc country, home to the world-renowned appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Pinot Noir and Gamay produce bright, easy-drinking red wines here.
Equal parts festive and food-friendly, sparkling wine is beloved for its lively bubbles and appealing aesthetics. Though it is often thought of as something to be reserved for celebrations, sparkling wine can be enjoyed on any occasion—and might just make the regular ones feel a bit more special. Sparkling wine is made throughout the world, but can only be called “Champagne” if it comes from the Champagne region of France. Other regions have their own specialties, like Prosecco in Italy and Cava in Spain. Sweet or dry, white or rosé (or even red!), lightly fizzy or fully sparkling, there is a style of bubbly wine to suit every palate.
The bubbles in sparkling wine are formed when the base wine undergoes a secondary fermentation, trapping carbon dioxide inside the bottle or fermentation vessel. Champagne, Cava and many other sparkling wines (particularly in the New World) are made using the “traditional method,” in which the second fermentation takes place inside the bottle. With this method, dead yeast cells remain in contact with the wine during bottle aging, giving it a creamy mouthful and toasty flavors. For Prosecco, the carbonation process occurs in a stainless steel tank to preserve the fresh fruity and floral aromas preferred for this style of wine.