Posted by: tomciocco | January 2, 2014

TWO GIANTS SHAKE HANDS ACROSS THE LOIRE

Everyone is familiar with the adage “Too many cooks spoil the soup”, and in most cases it’s true – multiple minds working together on a project without a very clear plan and a whole lot of communication, no matter how talented the participants, usually makes for a muddled, less than optimal final product. Tonight, we drank a wine that  beautifully contradicts this old saw.

Oenologically, the place we find ourselves tonight is France’s Loire Valley, and more specifically, the Touraine, and most specifically, in the town and A.O.C. called Cheverny. Cheverny is one of the most recently created A.O.C.s in the Loire, only founded in 1991. This little patch of the enormous region that is the Loire has a relatively mild climate and a soil composed of a mix of clay and silicates overlaying a thick bed of limestone, a terroir that favors both red and white grape varieties (and Cheverny produces both), though tonight’s wine was most definitely a white. All wines from Cheverny must be blended, and quite a few varieties can go into producing these blends, but this particular one is quite peculiar.

As the title suggests, most blended wines, like great dishes, or great musical groups, have either a perfectly even balance of elements or alternately, a clear lead player and several supporting roles that round out the cast. Not so with this wine. No, this bottling represents a meeting of two of France’s – indeed the world’s  – greatest white grapes; two grape that need no introduction and no explanation: Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. This particular cuvee` is made from 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay, which suggests to me too much of two really good things – two grapes that don’t, at least intuitively – seem that they’d have much chemistry, or each with a little too much “ego” to allow the other do what it does best. Well, I can report that these two giants, at least in this iteration, get along famously. Bravo Mssr. Cazin!

I paired this gregarious but still very well balanced wine with a cream of cauliflower soup with sage and lemon juice and zest, followed by a hash of hard boiled eggs, peas, mushrooms, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, parsley, etc. over toast and run under the broiler with fried butternut squash chips to accompany.

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Francois Cazin Cheverny “Le Petit Chambord” 2012

Medium “white gold” color. Complex and assertive nose of lime, green apple, fresh pineapple, flint, almond, vanilla extract, white pepper, fresh ginger, dried white flowers, and a prominent minerality. The palate is medium-full and very expressive and quite powerful with an astringently clean and crisp structure that vaults big flavors of pear nectar, grapefruit and mango fruit ably supported by flavors of cream and dried herbs. Very long bitter-tart finish.

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