Page 68

March Pages 2017

226 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE gins in southern France. Currently, it is widely cultivated in nearly all major grape-growing regions of the world, with some 300,000 acres planted. It is also perhaps one of the most malleable grapes in winemaking, adapting itself to a variety of styles that range from the intense, “sweaty” green fruit of the NZ version, to the flinty and grassy versions from France, to the oaked and tropical fruit versions of California. It is grown worldwide with notable versions from northeastern Italy in Friuli, South Africa (where on a recent trip we encountered some terrific versions in the Constantia region), Chile, Australia and here in B.C. We have also tasted versions from Peru (not exported, so take a trip), Ontario and other parts of the U.S. such as Washington and Idaho. Wine writer Jancis Robinson notes that its most recognizable characteristic is its “piercing, instantly recognizable aroma. Descriptions typically include ‘grassy, herbaceous, musky, green fruits’ (especially gooseberries), ‘nettles’ and even ‘tomcats’. Scientists tell us that the aroma compounds responsible are methoxypyrazines.”1 It can also have vegetative characteristics, most notably asparagus, green bell pepper and green peas when grown in cool climate areas. When you stop to think about these “attributes”—pungent green vegetables, body odour and feline urine—a certain wonder sets in that this is, after Chardonnay, probably the most popular white wine. It must be a quintessential example of the whole being more (and much, much better) than the sum of its parts! In France, it is a standalone variety in Loire and is blended with Sémillon and Muscadelle in Bordeaux, where it also plays a supporting role in Sauternes blends. The Loire Valley is one of France’s main white wine regions, although it is also famous for its Cabernet Franc. The whites for which it is best known are Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. The valley, which frames the Loire River, has a very long history of winemaking stretching back to Roman times, with its first recorded vineyards during their settlement of Gaul in the first century A.D. It was a flourishing viticultural region by the fifth century. In his work History of the Franks, Bishop Gregory of Tours wrote of the frequent plundering by the Bretons of the area’s wine stocks. By the 11th century the wines of Sancerre had a reputation across Europe for their high quality, and for some centuries after were the most esteemed wines consumed in France and England, even beating out Bordeaux.2 The valley is generally divided into three growing areas: the Upper Loire noted for Sauvignon Blanc and dominated by Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé; the Middle Loire planted more with Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc around Touraine, Saumur, Chinon and Vouvray; and the Lower Loire includ-


March Pages 2017
To see the actual publication please follow the link above