I’ve just come back from VinExpo, the world’s largest fine wine and spirits fair held biennially at the Parc des Expositions in Bordeaux. Among the many delicious wines I sampled over five days, this fresh 2011 Domaine des Huards Cour-Cheverny, with its combo of crisp, citrusy brightness, savory, mineral elegance, and a honeysuckle character, impressed me — and made me want another glass.
Elin McCoy’s Wine of the Week
Region: Loire Valley, France
Grape: 100% Romorantin
Serve with: As an aperitif with asparagus wrapped with prosciutto or oysters, with grilled shrimp or chicken
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Vigneron Michel Gendrier was pouring this inexpensive white at an excellent “Expression Bio” tasting, where more than 100 French producers who farm organically and biodynamically were showing off their wines.
Cour-Cheverny is a tiny appellation in the Loire Valley where the only grape grown is Romorantin. It’s an obscure traditional variety, supposedly brought to the region from Burgundy by King of France Francis I more than 500 years ago and named after the king’s homeland, Romorantin-Lanthenay.
Today, this rare grape, which turns out to be related to Chardonnay, is almost extinct. What makes the wines from it special is the way their bright vivacious character changes and develops weight and nuance with age. I sampled the 2010, 2009, and a 2007 special cuvée called Francois Ier from old vines that had a kind of waxy round richness, with heady aromas of honey and lemon.
Right now, though, the 2011 is perfect for an aperitif while standing around and waiting to grill those Fourth of July burgers and hot dogs.
This Cour-Cheverny rises in Loire Valley
The Gendrier family has farmed their estate for more than 160 years. They began with a small vineyard of Romorantin in Cour-Cheverny. Over the past several decades they’ve added more vineyards from which they now make interesting Cheverny reds and a rosé from Pinot Noir and Gamay, as well as a Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay blend called Cheverny Blanc.
They adhere to natural winemaking, fermenting with indigenous yeasts and then maturing the wine on the lees for six months, which contributes to its creamy texture.
The Loire Valley is a source for dozens and dozens of well-priced wines that are perfect for summer. This 2011 Domaine des Huards Cour-Cheverny is one of the most fascinating.
Top composite photo:
Winemaker Michel Gendrier and his wife Jocelyne, and the label for 2011 Domaine des Huards Cour-Cheverny of the Loire Valley. Credit: Courtesy of Domaine des Huards