[The following is dialogue from Sideways that made only the cutting room floor]
Maya: Miles, what do you think of Merlot?
Miles Raymond: What’s my opinion of Merlot? What the XXXX do you think my opinion is of it? I think it is XXXX! That’s my opinion of Merlot.
Maya: Whoa, Big Guy. Easy on the caffeine. Sorry, but I meant to ask about Pinot Noir.
Miles Raymond: [laughs softly] Oh, that’s different. Pinot Noir is like an ingénue. It’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early and needs constant care and attention. But when good, it’s really, really good.
This month I’m getting Sideways with The French Winophiles as we complete our first tour of the Upper Loire Valley. Pinot Noir is one of the hardest grapes to grow, and when you get a good bottle of Pinot it reminds you why Miles Raymond won’t drink “any F___ing Merlot.” If I get a bad bottle of Pinot (which is likely if I am served a friend’s bargain Pinot or am forced to order Pinot by the glass in a restaurant), my tune changes to “bring me the F___ing Merlot!”
The Loire Valley is famous for its easy drinking, quality white wines, in addition to its castles along the Loire River and its tributaries and geriatric-friendly bike paths. However, the reds are often overlooked and take a backseat to the Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Arbois grapes. Yet the Loire Valley creates some fantastic red wines from Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. These wines, like all those produced in the Loire Valley, tend to be light in alcohol, body, and color, food friendly, and a great value for everyday drinking.
To prove my point, and confirm that I am an iconoclast when it comes to wine and food, I paired the 2013 Domaine du Pré Semelé Sancerre Rouge with a simple Rotisserie Chicken from Albertsons. No fancy sauces, no complicated cooking techniques to bring out the nuances of the wine. This was as simple as you can get – no work, no oven, and no fuss; just pop the cork and enjoy.
The 2013 Domaine du Pré Semelé Sancerre Rouge is 100% Pinot Noir from vines aged 10-40 years. The vineyard is in a small (tiny) valley a few miles northwest of the town of Sancerre and managed by the third generation of the family Raimbault. Two brothers act as vigneron and wine-maker, following the example of their father who worked the vineyards for years with his brother. The soils are calcareous clay and limestone. The wine undergoes a cold maceration and fermentation, which is followed by ageing 8-9 months in a combination of half stainless, half used barrels.
The 2013 Domaine du Pré Semelé Sancerre Rouge exhibits bright, spicy, cherry and raspberry notes with hints of minerality from the terroir. The wine has a nice, full texture on the palate with a silky, medium long finish. It is food friendly and ideal for hot summer nights when you crave a red wine but the outside temperatures say “drink a G&T.” The ABV is 13% which is right in my wheelhouse when it comes to alcoholic content. This wine retails for $28 at K & L Wines when in stock.
So get a little Sideways this summer and explore the wines of the Loire Valley, including the reds!
Learn more about Loire Valley food and wine pairings by visiting:
Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog shares “2015 Domaine Franck Millet Sancerre Rose #Winophiles”
Michelle from Rockin Red Blog brings us “Diving into Loire Valley #Wine with #Winophiles: Sancerre & Pouilly-Fume”
Make sure to join us for our live Twitter Chat on Saturday, June 18th at 8 am PST/11 am EST using #Winophiles and share your Loire Valley Wine stories.
July 16th – Medoc, Haute Medoc
August 20th – St. Emilion/St. Emilion Satelites
September 17th – Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers