All of the major white varieties from the vast region (regions actually) that is the Loire Valley are well known for their crisp, bright acidity: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Melon. There is however one grape from the river valley’s outlet to the ocean in the region’s far western reaches that when it comes to acid, beats ‘em all and it is known by one of two names, Gros Plant or more commonly, Folle Blanche.
Within the Nantais (the Loire sub-region where Folle Blanche makes its home), the Muscadet appellation (which yields wine made from the Melon grape) walks away with most of the attention and accolades, or at least as much as wine from this neglected area of the Loire gets such attention. And to be completely fair there are at least a couple of reasons for this. First, Folle Blanche is not the easiest variety to grow due to its extreme susceptibility to almost every kind of vine ailment stemming from a surplus of rain and fog, and the Nantais has plenty of both. Further, if one is completely honest, Melon is the bigger, more complex and ultimately “finer” of the two varieties that essentially complete for the same palates and situations at the table.
But that said, Folle Blanche and Melon do not necessarily produce fully interchangeable results. Because Melon is typically aged on its lies, and naturally yields higher levels of alcohol, Muscadet has somewhat funkier, and more muscular character with an almost aromatic character on the nose, whereas Folle Blanche wines lean to a leaner, “greener” and more minerally overall presentation,with an even higher level of acidity.
Both of these wines are almost invariably and stereotypically paired with shellfish, and especially oysters, and for good reason – these wines and briny bivalves make as perfect a combination as any wine and type of food can enjoy together. I can and have served both of these wines with shellfish, but this time around I decided to take a completely different approach by mating this Folle Blanche wine with a chilled and slightly tart cream of watercress and potato soup followed by fresh turkey breast dressed with a lemon-inflected oyster mushroom gravy with a side of diced green beans and carrots.
Domaine de la Bregeonnette Gros-Plant du Pays Nantais “Folle Blanche” 2013
Very pale, “white gold” color. Spunky nose of grapefruit, white peach, green fig, pink rose, minerals, sour cream, broom and cut grass. The body of the wine is light and high-toned, with a tart and piercing acidity and flavors of gooseberry, lemon, lime, sea water, curaçao, almond and white spices. Clean and bitter finish with great length.