Monmousseau Vouvray (Loire Valley, France) Regular Price $12.75
One of those place/grape pairings you need to know in order to find your way around French wine is: Vouvray=Loire Valley=Chenin Blanc. The cool climate of the upper Loire is beneficial for Chenin Blanc because it ensures good acidity which balances the fruity character of the grape and the mineral flavors imparted by the terroir. And that combination of fruit and acidity is what attracted me to this wine when we tasted it in Wilmington. Some Vouvrays tend to go only for the sweetness of the Chenin and produce a wine that is too soft and flabby, like overripe fruit. This one keeps the crispness, while not denying the fruit, for a wine that will appeal to sweet and dry wine lovers alike.
The Monmousseau winery was established in 1886 at a limestone quarry that was abandoned after the building of the great chateaux of the Loire. This gave Alcide Monmousseau 15 km of underground caverns that were at a perfect year-round temperature and humidity for vinifying and aging great wines. The principal production of Monmousseau is “vin mousseux” (Touraine AOC), sparkling wines of the Chenin Blanc grape that are made in the bottle by the “méthode traditionelle.”
Serve this Vouvray chilled, but be careful that it’s not too cold. Let the wine warm slightly and open in the glass. Watch as the flavors evolve and develop. Vouvrays make excellent food wines, thanks to their acidity. The standard pairing is with light and delicate foods, but I like these wines with something hot and spicy. The combination of sweet and hot is not to be missed.
Monmousseau Rosé d’Anjou (Loire Valley, France) Regular Price $13.25, Feature Price $10.60
If there’s a season when I have the most luck turning “serious” wine drinkers on to dry rosé wines, it’s spring. We’re still hanging onto our deep reds around a cheery woodstove on the last chilly evenings; but as soon as the oak leaves start to swell and the pollen starts to billow, we want something we can sip outside on the deck. We’re not ready yet for the bracing, crisp whites we drink ice cold on hot summer afternoons. That’s when I’ll win you over with the delights of pink.
Anjou is in the western Loire River Valley, in the northwest of France near the city of Angers. Rosé d’Anjou is usually made from the local Grolleau (groh-LOH), a red grape that is considered “inferior” for making great red wines (remember how far north this is). The wine is generally made in a semi-sweet, low acid style perfect for quaffing on the bistro terrace. What I like about this one, though, is that they blend in some Cabernet Franc that gives a bit of what wine snobs call “grip,” a little tannic structure that lifts the wine from mediocrity and makes it a wonderful companion for the lighter foods of spring.
The recommended serving temperature for this wine is 46° Fahrenheit. Compare that with the chilly 42° (or lower) that most of our refrigerators hold and you can see that you need to bring it out to let it warm up and release its flavors. On a hot day, this will happen very quickly. So just pour and enjoy. Perfect with poultry and white meat, it is a fantastic accompaniment to lighter picnic style meals.