To say that Saint-Pourcain is a Loire Valley appellation is in the end, a pretty big stretch. This part of the Auvergne is irrigated by the Allier river – a name shared with the local, ultra-fine quality oak trees used in barrel production – which is a major tributary of the mighty Loire, but the water has to run many miles through rocky descents before it finally empties into France’s longest river. The terrain and culture in this region has much more to do with sheepy, windswept mountains than fable-worthy chateaux in the Jardin de France.
Saint-Pourcain A.O.C. regulations (it attained A.O.C. status only in 2009) allow for the cultivation of Pinot Noir and Gamay to produce red wines, and for whites, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc as support, and the wonderfully local white grape, Tressalier, which is the sole variety in this wine. This is a wine that does indeed seem to spring from a slightly meagre, sylvan, and sloped place, rather than the more fertile and damp landscape normally associated with The Loire.
I served this slightly austere but still gregarious white with toasts spread with a hash of soft goat cheese, smoked salmon, and herbs, and then a main course of boneless pork chops with apricot, wine, and shallot cream sauce, with carmelized Brussels sprouts as an accompaniment.
Domaine Nebout Saint-Pourcain Blanc Tressalier 2009
Medium golden/straw color. Clean and piercing nose of lightly toasted pine nuts, herbs, dried white flowers, candied ginger, braised fennel, and notes of frankincense. The medium to medium-full body offers punchy, bright, and mouthwatering flavors of grapefruit, pear, quince paste, and a touch of mustard seed, an overall taut and salty minerality, and a lingering slightly bitter/tart finish.