I’ve been decompressing following my recent trip through Chile and Argentina, hence the quiet blog. Earlier this week, I stopped in at the Loire Valley Wine Bureau’s Road Show, a traveling tasting for those in the trade. I usually never attend trade tastings—they’re typically crowded and noisy and are more for schmoozing than seriously evaluating wines. Nonetheless, there were some new faces there I wanted to meet, so I stopped by for a quick "hello."
I was pleased with the overall buzz in the room. The Loire has definitely gained a small but loyal following in recent years—exports to this country hit a new high last year. However, the Loire remains, for the most part, woefully overlooked by American wine lovers, even though I’ve been singing the praises of this region for quite a few years now (you can also reference last year's tasting report here) ... so much for the supposed vaunted power of the press.
It will be interesting to see if that buzz can continue to grow. Both the upcoming 2006 and 2007 vintages in the Loire are variable. 2006 lacks zip and clarity, while 2007 is inconsistent.
And it turns out 2008 is off to a tough start in some parts of the region: A hard frost hit vineyards in Muscadet, and growers there are sifting through the damage, as budbreak was affected.
“There are significant damages but [uneven],” said Bernard Chéreau of Chéreau-Carré, who noted that his Château de Chasseloir property will probably be down 30 percent, but his Château de la Chesnaie, located up on a plateau, was spared.
The vintage to gobble up if you see any still on retail shelves is 2005—both reds and whites excelled. I’d like to see the buzz on the Loire get a little louder, but consumers will have to choose wisely in the upcoming vintages, and since the region is a sprawl of appellations and varieties that requires honest effort to work through, it’ll be a taller order than usual for U.S. consumers. For those who appreciate fresh, acidity-driven wines that rely on minimal or no oak however, the effort is worth it.
My next tasting report will be in the upcoming June 15 issue of Wine Spectator, so if you need some help choosing a few wines to try, you can check that out as well.