Producer: Domaine du Salvard
Region: Cheverny, Loire Valley, France
Grape(s): Pinot Noir (65%), Gamay (35%)
Tasting Notes: Strawberry, Kiwi, Floral, Pink Grapefruit, Lemon
Pairings: Steamed salmon, Burmese tea leaf salad, Vietnamese spring rolls (without peanut sauce), strawberry, spinach and goat cheese salad
Price (approximately): $16.99
Happy New Year! I was celebrating in France, metaphorically speaking, with a not-so-bargain Champagne and wonderfully-priced bargain rosé from the Loire Valley. Wait ... rosé, for New Year? You might wonder how the non-bubbly version managed to sneak onto the sparkling menu, but this rosé was definitely worth the New Year’s Eve spotlight.
The Loire River is the longest river flowing through France. It begins in Massif Central, a south-central, mountainous region, and flows north several hundred miles into the center of France near the city of Orleans before turning west and eventually emptying into the Atlantic. The climate of the Loire Valley becomes cooler as one travels east and away from the tempering effects of the Atlantic Ocean. The banks of this river are prime real estate for vineyards, and because of its long length and different climate zones, grape varietals and styles vary significantly within the region. Here, there is something for everyone.
Touraine is a large appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) located in the central portion of the Loire Valley. This far inland, the Atlantic’s influence is significantly diminished, and the climate is more mild and temperate. Touraine is the largest subregion of the Loire Valley, and home to more than 150 AOC subregions.
In upper Touraine, the AOC of Cheverny has a few unique aspects working in its favor. First, terroir. Erosion of the Loire River, and corresponding deposits, is higher here than most other regions. Second, blending. Much of the Loire Valley’s wine regions subscribe to a singular varietal paradigm. One grape to rule them all. In contrast, Cheverny’s wines take a more polyvarietal path, and winemakers are not afraid to experiment with different grapes and blends. For Cheverny, more is better.
This wine, consisting of 65 percent Pinot Noir and 35 percent Gamay, dazzles in the glass with a stunning light salmon color. While Pinot Noir is a common varietal utilized for rosé blends, Gamay, most associated with the Burgundian subregion of Beaujolais, is not. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing it used for rosé. [Anyone have another example?] The grape, however, offers incredible ripe berry fruit flavors and floral characteristics packed into a lighter body.
On the nose, ripe red fruit, dominated by fresh strawberries, kiwi fruit and citrus (lemon, lime and pink grapefruit) rounded out an expressive bouquet. On the palate, the character was light and fruit-forward with plenty of ripe strawberries and citrus. Light and crisp, with pleasing mineralality and balanced acidity. The wine did drink a touch thin, perhaps due to the Gamay, and the complexity wouldn’t rival the best rosé producers. But at a $17 price point, this wine really impresses.
Light and delicate, the wine shines on its own. Need a refreshing glass on a warm summer afternoon? This wine would satisfy brilliantly. For food, try pairing with steamed salmon, strawberry, spinach and goat cheese salad, Burmese tea leaf salad, or Vietnamese summer rolls (sans peanut sauce).
In Honolulu, pick up a bottle at Fujioka's Wine Times.
You may notice that my Bargain Wines received a price increase for 2018. In Hawaii I have found it extraordinarily difficult to consistently find intriguing bargain wines priced under $20. My objective is to find interesting and unique wines from regions across the globe that you can enjoy at the weekday table without breaking the bank. Along the way, I hope to explore rare grape varietals, interesting blends, and regions less traveled that can broaden our knowledge of, and appreciation for, the vinous world. I have discovered that increasing my ceiling by a few dollars provides access to a host of new and exciting wines to share. I hope you enjoy them.