Here at Paul Marcus Wines, our selection of Loire wines often overflow their boxes and shelves because we keep so many in stock. With dozens of wines from almost as many sub-regions, grapes, soil-types, and vinification techniques, we’ve chosen a few favorites that showcase the wide variety available in our shop, while steering clear of obvious and more easily-recognizable offerings. Starting with some of the younger and immediately familiar wines, we’ll take a trip up and down and back and forth across the river valley and through a decade to present an affordable smorgasbord of bottles for your table.
If Cabernet Franc is the king of Loire Valley reds, the Domaine Fouet Saumur-Champigny ($18) is a princely expression. With all the rich red fruit of its pedigree tempered by a strict backbone of structured tannin, it drinks like a varsity chess player, with balance and youthful exuberance. Meanwhile, Sauvignon Blanc, the best known of the Loire white grapes, is done with being prized principally in the Easternmost regions of the valley where name-recognition and a long history of quality wines can obscure precisely faceted crystals in the rough such as the Domaine Pelle Menetou-Salon Morogues ($20). This wine is so fresh, and clean, and bursting with citrus excitement that fruit ripeness encourages the flavor rather than dominates it.
Sebastien Bobinet’s Saumur-Champigny “Amateus Bobi” ($29) is an opportunity to elucidate on the particularities of Cabernet Franc with more texture and complexity. Grown on a small parcel with limestone and clay, and vinified naturally with native yeast and no sulfur, this cuvee exhales the aroma of violets in well-trodden pasture while the length of acidity on the palate unwraps a pellet of savory, dried fruit. Not far to the west, another young vigneron has focused on farming small parcels by hand and the schist, rhyolite, and sand upon which grow his Chenin Blanc, produce rich ripe fruit for a dense, stonecut wine with lots of longevity called Thibaud Boudignon Anjou Blanc ($37). While Boudignon uses oak barrels for vinification and maturation to produce sturdy, dry wines, a producer across the river is also growing Chenin Blanc and fermenting in barrel, but to completely different effect. The Domaine de Belliviere Jasnieres “Les Rosiers” ($36) is grown on flinty clay, sees a bit more new oak, retains a slight bit of residual sugar and demonstrates that an elegant, supple, aromatically available and salaciously salivating wine can stand tall in contrast.
This year remains the only vintage in which condition and circumstance allowed for the Le Rocher des Violettes Touraine Gamay ($22) to be produced and it is fantastic! Winemaker Xavier Weiskopff who farms organically and focuses on fresh, mineral-driven wines has created a vibrantly poignant light red with the power of a miner and the tact of a jeweler.
In the Domaine Le Briseau Coteaux de Loire ($28), we find a rich, and complex wine with a breadth of cardamom and clove aromas locking arms around a deep well of concentrated Chenin Blanc fruit, staring into it and looking not for answers but for more questions. This non-descript bottling of biodynamically grown, naturally vinified beauty is demi-sec and supple but retains a fine edge of acidity to compliment your meal.
With the price of Burgundy escalating, this bright, beautiful Pinot Noir grown in the same rocky soil as his most structured and full-bodied blanc, the Lucien Crochet Sancerre Rouge “Croix du Roy” ($37), is a great deal on an age-worthy wine from an excellent vintage that also drinks beautifully in youth. The deep red fruit and a lingering herbal acidity help to
Of course, if you want to age your bottles, it’s best to see what they can do over time. Take the high-acid La Moranderie Muscadet Vielles Vignes ($22), zippy and fresh as a youngster (we also carried the 2014 for a time), which matures into a widely textured wine that spreads across the palate like a wave instead of splashing at the shore. The intensity of pH and
the complexity of old-vine terroir help ensure that many Loire Valley wines are capable of, and deserve, some time in bottle. For example, the biodynamically-grown, naturally-made Tour Grise Samur Brut Non Dose ($23) is a rich, yeasty, and very dry sparkling Chenin Blanc, which, with its age, exhibits golden baking spice aromas and, as with both the Muscadet and Coteax du Loire, a broad and complex palate like your friendly PMW employees.