San Salvatore

On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

The Loire Valley: A Closer Look

14 Nov 2022

(April 20202) ... Over the next week or two I will be posting pictures and a series on my trip to the Loire in April 2022 ... It has taken me a while to figure out how to best present all the information – and maybe, the best way, is by date. The trip was full each day with a morning themed Masterclass, an afternoon excursion and an evening “out”. The time was jam-packed with wines to taste and things to do.

The Loire touts itself as a place with "The world's most diverse range of wines" and from the many tastings one could really see the diversity in grapes, wine styles and flavours. The focus for our purposes were on the Nantes, the Anjou-Saumur and Haut-Poitou, and The Touraine vineyards.

The Loire Valley ... Big picture by the numbers:

The Loire is 51 appellations and designations of origin taking up 56,900 hectares of vines, 63% of which have some form of environmental accreditation. They have five regions, 15 departments, and 800 km of wine trails. They are the third largest French wine region by AOP volume. If you exclude Champagne, they have the biggest vineyard area devoted sparkling wine production. They are number one in vineyard area for white wine and second for rosé. And they have over 2000 years of history in wine making. There are 24+ varieties of which the top five are Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne and Sauvignon Blanc. And while Cabernet Franc is the top grape, red wine makes up only 19% of their production. 45% is white (both dry and sweet), 26% is Rosé and 10% sparkling. They have 3,600 wine growers, 430 negoientes, and 21 co-op wineries.
280 million bottles are sold across 160 countries.

Interesting to note that nine bottles of Loire Valley wine gets sold every second; and the top markets for these wines are the UK, the USA, Germany, Belgium and Canada.

Diving deeper by region...

The Nantes:Nantes
82% White / 12% Rosé / 6% Red
$490 growers / one co-op / 80 negotiates
40 million bottles sold - 80% in France / 20% exported



AnjouThe Anjou-Saumur / Haut-Poitou:
46% Rosé / 14% Red / 20% Sparkling / 18% White
1100 growers / 5 Co-ops / 90 negotiates
129 million bottles sold - 80% in France / 20% exported



The Touraine:Touraine
37% Red / 36% White /16% Sparkling /11% Rosé
1180 growers / 10 Co-ops / 25 negotiations
57 million bottles sold - 78% in France / 22% exported

Le Clos J: The Return of Claystone

07 Nov 2022

(September 26, 2022) ... To mark the occasion of the return of Claystone wines (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) – Le Clos Jordanne hosted media in the vineyard for an afternoon of small plates and new wines.Thomas

It was the new 2020s which included Pinot Noir and Chardonnay within their three lines: Jordan Village, Le Grand Clos, and the newly reissued Claystone terrace. Smoke & Barrel Niagara catered and included things like Pork Rillettes, Steak Tartar and Cheese "Fondue" matches for the Pinot and Smoked Salmon, Corn Soup and Basque Cheesecake for the Chardonnay.

Due to pandemic-related supply chain issues with glassware and bottling, these wines were just 3 weeks in bottle. Some showed extremely well and should only get better ... others were closed and hard to get a handle on. Therefore, reviews will be pending another taste at a later date. For now these are the three wines that showed very well.

Le Clos Jordanne 2020 Pinot Noir, Claystone Terrace
This boy is back in town. After the relaunch of Le Clos the wonder was on as to which vineyards would return to the fold. Le Grand was back, a Village showed up second (under a new name “Jordan Village”), and now Claystone makes its return as well. An elegant yet powerful version with earthy, black cherry, peppered-cranberry and some floral notes as well. The acidity shows a real punch on the palate and the nose offers up a real pleasing clove and ginger note that never appears in the mouth, but acts as the lure to make you take sip after sip after sip. It's a muscular wine that still shows off its feminine wiles.  (****+)

Le Clos Jordanne 2020 Pinot Noir, Jordan Village
The nose has a hint of ginger root, but the palate shows not a lick of it- instead, it's black cherry, white pepper and a cranberry finish.  (****)

Le Clos Jordanne 2020, Chardonnay, Jordan Village
Gee whiz Grandma, what a lovely Chardonnay you've made. Thomas B and the team at Le Clos have cobbled together the best Jordan Village to date (granted, there have been only two, but this one will be hard to beat). Ripe apple, peach, green melon all make an appearance there's a lovely punch of acidity on the finish and a rich spicy note that lingers... Sip a little more and there's some subtle tropical note that appears and help win the day.  (****+)


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