For some inexplicable reason, the Loire remains a woefully underrated area. The longest river in France, its banks are home to a remarkable variety of grapes and wine styles — red and white, sweet and dry, sparkling and still.
Lightness and freshness is the region’s signature and the following selection from the inimitable Yapp Bros, 2014 IWC Loire Specialist of the Year, is perfect springtime fare. Jason Yapp has lopped a quid off every bottle and I hope you find as much to enjoy here as I did.
There’s nothing duller than a dull Muscadet, oh, except maybe a dull Soave, but the 2013 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, Domaine de la Mortaine (1) is anything but, being full of vim and vigour.
We offered the previous vintage last summer and I make absolutely no apology for offering this one now, such a success was it. In fact, as I said last time, it’s about as perfect a Muscadet as you will find. It’s crisp, clean and lemony and thanks to a winter on its lees, has plenty of lift and zip and what Jason refers to as ozone freshness. The Quentin Blake label is rather uplifting too. £8.95 down from £9.95.
I remember that the 2013 Menetou-Salon, Domaine Jean Teiller (2) was napped as a favourite by my august predecessor Simon Hoggart. He loved the stuff. I think he was rather taken by the winemaker Patricia Teiller, too.
She and her husband trained in Burgundy but also did a vintage in New Zealand, and it shows. Old World meets New here with buckets of ripe, zesty, whistle-clean fruit and a touch of exotic tropical mango and papaya. £13.50 down from £14.50.
The Vouvray Mousseaux Brut Réserve, Domaine Aubert (3) is charm itself, a cheery yet sophisticated méthode traditionelle sparkler from a longstanding family estate, where workers still ‘riddle’ the bottles by hand. Made from 100 per cent Chenin Blanc, it has tasty toasty brioche notes, an under-lying creaminess and a vibrant froth and fizz. It’s dry but fruity, a real crowd-pleaser, and thunderingly good value at £13.50 down from £14.50.
The 2014 ‘La Ficelle’ de Saint-Pourcain, Union des Vignerons (4) is as delightful and enticing as its label is ghastly and offputting. Ignore it and wallow in the sheer drink-ability of this Gamay/Pinot Noir blend.
Called La Ficelle after the knotted string that waiters would dip in the bottle to see how much you had drunk, it’s the archetypal vin de soif, or thirst-quencher. It’s light, fresh and fruity, and ideal for carefree rather than contemplative drinking. I’d suggest serving it lightly chilled. £8.95 down from £9.95.
The 2013 Saumur Champigny, Domaine Filliatreau (5) is another deeply quaffable red from the Filliatreau family, who were largely responsible for galvanising the appellation in the 1970s. Out went haphazard harvesting and leaky barrels, and in came state of the art practices and technology and, lo and behold, Saumur Champigny became the staple partner of steak frites in the brasseries and bistros of Paris, and the talk of the town. Refreshing and uncomplicated, it’s designed to be drunk young and served cool and cries out to be uncorked during that lamentably rare event these days, the long lunch. £11.50 down from £12.50.
Finally the 2013 Chinon L’Arpenty (6), a pure, fruit-driven, unblended Cabernet Franc. The Yapps have shipped every vintage of this wine for the past 40 years and I can quite see why. It’s crammed with luscious wild berry fruit backed by fine-grained, subtle tannins. It might be a tad early to be thinking of picnics, but all I could think of when tasting this was straw hats, gingham tablecloths, wicker baskets full of pork pies and York ham, and the sun shining down on a gurgling English brook. £12.50 down from £13.50.
There’s a sample case containing two of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.
Delivery, as ever, is free to mainland Britain, and there's a sample case containing two bottles of each wine.
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