The Red-Headed Stepchild of Sancerre #winophiles
The End of the Road for the French Winophiles Loire Valley Tour
All good things must come to an end, but what a finish! Our virtual tour of the Loire Valley has taken us inland all the way to the towns of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. The climate here is fully continental, with no moderating influence from the sea. The conditions for botrytis don’t exist, so there are no more luscious, sweet dessert wines. But don’t despair! Here we have limestone soils from ancient seabeds and a climate that is perfect for flinty, mineral-driven Sauvignon Blanc based white wines. Lesser known, but equally beautiful, Pinot Noir is grown in some communities to give us Rouge where we might usually expect Blanc.
The Other Sancerre – Rouge
Before I finish with the Central Vineyards, I’ll cover the whites, but today, I’d like to spend some quality time with a Sancerre Rouge. The community of Sancerre sits on the left bank of the Loire River, and is situated on a variety of soils very similar to those found in Burgundy. Sauvignon Blanc does beautifully in this area and is the main grape of the region. However, Pinot Noir is also well suited to the climate and the soil. Because it’s not Burgundy and it’s not the main grape in the region, Sancerre Rouge wines can be a great bargain, offering a classic French approach to the grape at decidedly affordable prices. They’re worth seeking out!
Domaine Claude Riffault “La Noue” Sancerre (Rouge) AOC 2010 ($25 at Zipps Liquors)
The Sancerre Rouge wines of Claude Riffault come from only 3 hectares (about 7 acres) of vines, I’m amazed we see the wines in Minnesota! The La Noue vineyard sits on a combination of Terres Blanches and Kimmeridgian marl soil. The vineyards are farmed organically with manual harvesting, vinification in tank and aging in neutral French oak barrels.
Eye: Clear, pale ruby in color
Nose: Strawberries & raspberries, but not just fruit, something underneath. Wet forest floor, olives, mushrooms, but very subtle. A little cinnamon & sage.
Mouth: Not overly fruity, the wine was bone dry and a bit astringent. Still the red fruit and forest elements show through just fine. Not a lush wine, but not severe. You wouldn’t mistake this for Oregon or California, it’s just too dry. I absolutely loved this wine on it’s own and also with the meal. Lastly, $25 for a single vineyard Pinot Noir with some age on it? Nice!
Coffee-Rub Lamb Chops and Vegetable Tian from the Grill
As the weather warms up, I like to cook as much as possible on the grill. This year, we invested in a Primo Grill, which is a charcoal based ceramic “kamado” cooker. I’m having lots of fun cooking over a charcoal fire in a new way! Stand by for more details in coming weeks.
Lamb chops are a real favorite of mine, and I’m something of a purist. I think they’re best with just a bit of rosemary, salt & pepper. The coffee rub was very nice, but I felt it masked the slightly gamey flavor of the lamb. If you’re not wild about that aroma and flavor, you might enjoy the rub very much. The vegetables, on the other hand, were a complete win. I loved the barely smoky flavor they picked up from being on the grill, while cooking them together allowed the herb and vegetable flavors to meld a bit. Topped by the browned cheese with just a bit of crunch, they were irresistible and I had a second serving.
The earthy elements of the Sancerre Rouge were a perfect fit with the grilled food. The medium-light body of the wine seemed just right on a warm summer evening. Make sure you serve the wine just a bit below “American” room temperature. Pop the bottle in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour or so before you serve it and you’ll be fine.
French #Winophiles Central Loire Finds
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”
Next month we move on to Bordeaux! Here are the dates for upcoming meetings:
- July 16th – Medoc, Haute Medoc
- August 20th – St. Emilion/St. Emilion Satelites
- September 17th – Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers
Note: For best flavor, apply the rub to your lamb chops the day before and store in the refrigerator. Grilled Coffee-Rub Lamb Chops Ingredients Summer Vegetable Tian Ingredients Instructions Meal Day
Lamb Chops with Summer Vegetable Tian
Starting the day before, or at least 4 hours before cooking
Note: For best flavor, apply the rub to your lamb chops the day before and store in the refrigerator.
Grilled Coffee-Rub Lamb Chops Ingredients
Summer Vegetable Tian Ingredients