As a Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc fan, I usually enjoy well-made wines from the Loire but as an importer I seem to have a difficult time finding wines that meet my standards. There are also a tremendous amount of Loire wines already imported into the United States and so it is also difficult to find the "undiscovered" wines from great farmers that are my focus throughout my portfolio.
Another unfortunate reality for Loire wines, however, is that, as the region in France with the highest production volume, I would guess that many producers know that they can always sell most of their production to large French supermarket chains and so such realities also decrease the motivation to produce consistently good wines. I did find two nice surprises, however, in my most recent trip to France in a delightful demi-sec Vouvray from a smaller producer and an outstanding Cabernet Franc from the up and coming Brissac region in Anjou. There was actually also a delightful third surprise as well in a remarkable Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie from near Vallet but the producer decided that he didn't want to deal with having to create new labels to meet the often silly, capricious, and arbitrary requirements of the US TTB.
Famille Mahieu Vouvray Reserve de Charmigny 2015
This is a slightly sweet "demi-sec" version of Vouvray and which actually adds to its versatility in food pairings. Initial aromas are of peonies, jasmine, honeysuckle, and acacia along with hints of ripe cherries, candied citrus, and quince. Flavors include cantaloupe, ripe honeydew melon, and pink grapefruit along with hints of anise. The wine is perfectly balanced with a medium to full body and refreshing acidity.
Food pairings would include sole, sea bass, crab, lobster, Coquilles St. Jacques, oysters, tuna, seafood salads, veal, pork, baked chicken, creamy pasta and vegetable dishes, creamy curries, quiche, and rich cheeses.
Chateau de Brissac Cuvee "Virtute Tempore" 2015
This is a special cuvee of Cabernet Franc from the up and coming Anjou Villages Brissac AOC which is becoming known for more fully flavored reds as compared with other red producing areas such as Chinon, Saumur-Champigny, and Bourgeuil. This special cuvee "Virtute Tempore" (or virtuous time in Latin) is from precisely aging the wine to express its full flavors and complexity. Initial aromas are of rich plums, mocha, and other beautiful hints of rich dark fruits. Flavors include dark cherries, dark plums, and hints of blackberries. This is medium bodied with a very refreshing depth of flavors along with a perfect balance between its acidity and sweet tannins.
Food pairings would include Filet Mignon, New York Steak, Rib Eye, roast beef, beef stew, short ribs, rack of lamb, lamb chops, veal chops, pork chops, duck, charcuterie, cassoulet, sausages, Asian beef and pork dishes, sauteed shrimp, grilled or braised tuna, grilled vegetables, pasta salads, and many cheeses.