92 Insider Points
The Loire Valley Holds All Sorts of Rare Treasures
I still remember the first time I had Sancerre, and the first time I had Anjou, and Pouilly-Fume, and Vouvray, and Chinon. They are all fantastic wines, each with something special, that unique Loire quality. I'm lucky enough to have found that uniqueness again with our Cave de Gortona Chardonnay. When I joined the team and got the chance to look through our direct imports, this was one in particular that caught my eye, and I was indeed elated to get the chance to try it. Here it is, in all its hidden glory, a wine that is both refreshing and full, and nice mix of 2 worlds that will fit into the profiles of many different white wine lovers. I would say it is best fit for those who enjoy the main-stream Loire whites and white Burgs. Which explains why it was right up my alley. 92 Points - JZ Oct '18
Loire Valley, France
This is a rare breed. Chardonnay from the Mâconnais? Sure, we see that a lot. But pure Chard from the Loire Valley: not something one sees everyday. Made by the well-respected and much loved producer, Cave de Gortona, the wine was direct imported with intent of underscoring that this historic region has some modern cool up its sleeve.
With this French steal our Direct Import program pulled off quite a coup. Known as a region for flinty Sauvignon Blanc, it seems the Loire Valley is also capable of achieving greatness when it comes to Chardonnay.
Winemaker Eric Louis has earned raves from members for this value-packed, estate-grown Sancerre. The same white wine lovers will find Louis signature “non interventionist” style in this Chardonnay—made from grapes grown in the region’s famous clay-limestone soils. Fermented in 100% stainless steel and aged for three months on its fine lees, this unoaked beauty is full of zip and natural acidity, along with Chardonnay’s classic pear, citrus and delicately floral nose. Like Louis’ Sancerre, this Direct Import is also delicious with shellfish, and an added roundness makes it equally tasty with rotisserie chicken and roast potatoes.
· Regarding the 2016 Loire Valley vintage, the Wine Enthusiast writes: “This vintage is set to be flavorsome and fruit-driven, with good balance and ample availability to supply market needs.”
· Employing natural techniques whenever possible, Eric Louis also farms according to lunar rhythms—with a nod toward biodynamic viticulture—and plants grass in between the rows of vines to nurture the soil.
· Louis’ vines are planted on the famed soils of the best AOCs in the Loire. Their holdings in Sancerre, in particular, are situated in the ideal terroir for flinty, mineral Sauvignon Blanc with a soil content made of 2/3 clay-limestone and 1/3 flint.
· Louis inherited this winemaking estate from this great grandmother, Pauline Louis. In the 1860s Pauline sold her hand-made white wine at local markets to drink down with the regional cheeses, vegetables and eggs (this is the Loire Valley, after all—the so-called Le jardin de la France).
This is a very round, well-balanced, and bright wine. You'll notice lemon and floral notes and smell the aromas of peach and pear.
Domaine Eric Louis traces its roots back to 1860, when Eric’s great-great-grandmother Pauline sold her wines at the local markets. Eric, a fourth generation grape grower, is a serious farmer in the commune of Thauvenay, which rises in altitude from about 150 to 300 meters above sea level and above the banks of the Loire.
Eric creates lovely, serious, “real” wines from low yielding vines planted in the flint, chalk, and clay soils of the commune. Though not certified, his 18 hectares of vines are tended organically, grass is allowed to grow between the rows to hold the soil and to preserve the water, and the lunar rhythms are carefully observed for the best times to perform important viticultural and oenological functions.
Most of the vineyards are around the village of Thauvenay, though there is a small production from the vineyards in neighboring Pouilly-Fumé and Quincy.
This makes a particularly good accompaniment for fish dishes, molluscs and shellfish. To enjoy them at their best, the latter should be served raw or lightly dressed with extra virgin olive oil. It should be served at a temperature of 10-12 C°.