What to drink this week

Loire reds: the Pinots

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

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

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