What to drink this week
Loire reds: the Pinots
Pinot Noir is the world’s sexiest and most sought-after grape—a phenomenon only partly attributable to that brilliant film Sideways. We’re hearing a lot these days about Pinot Noirs from New Zealand, the coolest parts of California and Oregon, but, rather strangely, not so much from a place much closer to Pinot Noir’s homeland of Burgundy.
Why you should be drinking them
That place is the central Loire Valley and, in particular, the appellations of Sancerre and Menetou-salon. I expect that you associate those places, the former especially, with white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, but growers are increasingly proud of their Pinot Noir reds. Climate change means generally warmer vintages and riper grapes, which can only be an advantage on this relatively northerly latitude for Pinot Noir—similar to that of Beaune, but further west and thus a bit cooler.
What to drink
A few years ago, I might have rated the chance of finding a truly exciting Menetou-salon red as similar to that of encountering a golden oriole in Berkshire—very low—but times change. Domaine de l’ermitage, Grand Vin, Menetou-salon 2014 (below, £15.95; www.from vineyardsdirect.com) is mediumpale in colour, has a beautiful red-cherry scent and is quite substantial on the palate. It’s excellent, in a different style from Burgundy. The 2015 Sancerre Chavignol Rouge (£18.95; www.leaandsandeman.co.uk) is lovely, fragrant and forward, with that special Loire crispness, and the same producer’s 2015 Sancerre Cul de Beaujeu Rouge (£31.75; www.leaand sandeman.co.uk) has a wonderful, raspberryish character and is focused and long.
The world’s sexiest grape is making some seriously drinkable stuff in the Loire, discovers Harry Eyres