(2019) A unusual Pinot Gris from vineyards in the Muscadet area of the Loire, and therefore classified as an IGP Val de Loire rather than Muscadet. Its 'flute' bottle gives it a rather Alsace look, and indeed the stuff inside has something in common with Pinot Gris from Alsace, including some residual sugar. And like Alsace, there's no way to tell that from the label which is a source of potential confusion for a thoroughly nice wine. Some floral, candy and citrus notes on the nose are attractive, a little stone-fruit, peachy character too. In the mouth there is good intensity here, definite sweetness, but a big rushing core of acidity sweeps the wine along to a balanced finish. For me, a banker for Thai or spicier Chinese cuisine.
(2019) Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, this is a wine made by the traditional method with long secondary fermentation in individual bottles. It pours with fine bubbles, a pale straw colour, and immediately attractive nose; crisp and fruity but with enough creamy character from its time on the lees. In the mouth it's a lovely, easy-drinking style, very fresh and free-flowing with orchard fruits and a zippy lemony acidity that is delicate and summery, with no tartness, into a finely-honed finish.
(2019) What a lovely Sauvignon Blanc, and quite a different expression from the Loire big hitters of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Part of that is down to the 18 months this unoaked wine stayed on the lees, meaning that even with only 12.5% alcohol it has texture and creaminess as well as vivid fruit. There's a touch of honey and apricot to the otherwise pristine apple and citrus aromas and flavours, nuttiness from the lees ageing rather than anything grassy, and a rounded, balanced finish.
(2019) Around the mouth of the River Loire, the slate and granite soils of Muscadet produce wines prized for their freshness and tang. I don't come across too many sub-£6 wines that I can recommend these days, but this is one: it is not a Muscadet 'Sur Lie' so misses some of that yeasty, more saline character, but the fruit is bright and clear, all dry apple and lemon with an apple core bite of dryness to the acidity of the finish making it very seafood and sushi friendly. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) 100% Chenin Blanc sparkling wine, made by the traditional method and spending 14 months on the lees, this comes from limestone soils in the Loire Valley. It has fresh but lightly biscuity aromas of peach and ripe apple, a fine mousse, and palate with plenty of dry, apple core acidity and a lemony surge of fruit. The creaminess of the lees does round the flavours out, a touch of toast even, into a long finish with enough dosage to add a sweet edge on the finish.
(2019) Though I am a big fan of Chenin Blanc, a recent focus has also been on South Africa, a great Chenin producing country. But of course the spiritual home of Chenin Blanc is the central Loire Valley, with appellations like this one, Vouvray. Here, a 'Sec' or dry example shimmers with pristine apple fruit, a summer meadow note of hay and dry grass, and on the palate terrific focus with its sheer, salty, mineral character and acidity. There is a slippery, weighty texture, but clean and intense with all that saline, mouth-watering appeal. Watch the video for food-matching ideas and more information.
(2019) Made from a blend of Cabernet Franc and Grolleau from vineyards in the Anjou region, and by the Traditional Method, this is a Brut sparkling pink that must have a healthy dosage as it is creamy, sweet and very approachable in the mouth. Strawberry and soft summer berries on nose and palate, enough acidity, but an essentially come-hither style of good quality.
(2019) A blend of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Grolleau, from vines planted on chalky limestone of the Saumur region, this is both elegant and fun. It's a traditional method sparkling wine majoring on fruit and delicacy, perhaps a halfway-house between Prosecco and a more yeasty, leesy Champagne style. It is crammed with raspberry and reducurrant aromas, just a hint of toastiness in the background, then the palate delivers up a plateful of strawberries and cream cut with a slice of lemon. Not too dry (though it is Brut with 11g/l of dosage), this is an excellent quality Crémant made for Sainsbury's by the well-respected house of Ladubay. £9.00 on offer at time of review.
(2018) Annick Tinel-Blondelet has been in charge here since 1983, the 12th generation of her winegrowers family, their vineyards sited on slopes of Kimmeridgian marl, as found in the top vineyards of Chablis. What a lovely nose on this wine, striking a balance between peach and exotic fruit ripeness, and smoky, mineral-driven terroir aromatics, sensuous and at the same time brightly appealing. In the mouth the featherlight 12.5% alcohol does not mean any lack of texture, the 35-year-old vines giving natural concentration, and that salty tang of minerality honing the edges of the ripe and crowd-pleasing fruitiness. Deliciously gluggable and classy, and at its £14.99 offer price at time of review, a serioud steal.
(2017) With over 900 stores in the UK, Iceland is a significant retailer, yet one that very, very rarely features on these pages because, frankly, their wine range has always been rather pedestrian. This wine, however, exclusive to Iceland in the UK, is a little cracker. A traditional method sparkling wine from the Loire Valley, it is mostly about fresh citrus fruit on the nose, but there is a little bit of custard cream richness, and the palate has a ripe fruit sweetness to offset the racing apple acidity and crispness of the mousse. Quite long, stylish, and very smart for the price.