The Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth calls chenin blanc the “insider’s” variety, describing its following as small and loyal. For savvy wine consumers, its relatively low profile is good news. Not only is this unfamiliar white wine variety of the Loire Valley a great conversation starter over dinner, but even in Australia you can find very good examples at great prices!
The best expressions of chenin blanc in France come from Vouvray, where the ‘tuffeau’ chalk covered with clay, flint and sand soils creates minerally wines with a chalk or flinty streak and typically notes of pear, ginger, honeysuckle, persimmon, quince and lime zest. Naturally high in acidity, it’s versatile enough to be used for a variety of styles including sparkling, dry, off-dry and dessert-style versions.
Last week I thoroughly enjoyed the dry style Domaine Pichot Couteau de la Biche Vouvray 2011 over dinner at China Doll. At first it was aromatic and light, but after a bit of time in the glass the wine opened up and gained weight and texture. Its clean fresh palate displayed crisp apple flavours complemented by ripe pear and honeysuckle. It proved a perfect accompaniment for the the slightly spicy yet delicate Asian cuisine.
Domaine Pichot is an amalgamation of the properties of the father (Jean-Claude) ‘Coteau de la Biche’ and the son (Christophe) ‘Peu de la Moriette’ located mainly in the prime Vouvray sites of Le Mont and Haut Lieu at the top of the village. The Pichot family is one of the oldest in Vouvray with origins as viticulturists and restaurateurs going back to 1739. Its 25 ha of organically farmed vineyards are considered among the best in Vouvray.
by Merrill Witt, Editor