Grapevine Archive for Sauvignon Blanc

Fri 29 Apr 2016

Sauvignon Blanc… With a Twist

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I could have sworn I saw a swallow earlier this week; and with the onset of darkness now retreating to past 8 o’clock I feel I can dare to dream of more temperate times to come. Indeed, in The Cellar Showroom this week I have noticed a marked shift towards white wine purchases. Society members appear to share my optimism.

For me, no grape screams spring and summer like sauvignon blanc. Fresh, herbaceous, citric, tropical… the styles from around the world all seem to have an affinity to the time of year when hats and scarves can be mothballed.

Healthy sauvignon blanc grapes.

Healthy sauvignon blanc grapes.

Lovely as these wines are, though…

Recently I have been particularly taken with a number of sauvignon blanc blends.

Adding another grape or two to sauvignon blanc can temper the variety’s natural acidity and can complement sauvignon’s flavour profile with a splash of something different.

Four Sauvignons With a Twist

Domaine du Salvard's Cheverny employs a splash of chardonnay to add depth

Domaine du Salvard’s Cheverny employs a splash of chardonnay to add depth

• Member favourite Duo Des Mers, Sauvignon-Viognier Vin de France 2015 (£5.95) benefits from the fattening and softening influence of the viognier grape’s texture, whilst also bringing the characteristic apricot and peach aromas to the wine.

•Another popular French choice, Cheverny, Domaine du Salvard 2015 (£7.95), employs 10-15% chardonnay in the blend to give greater breadth and depth, but without masking the herbaceous scents of the sauvignon.

Bleasdale Langhorne Crossing Verdelho-Sauvignon 2015 (£6.95) combines sauvignon blanc with another spring-and-summer variety: the vibrant verdelho, which introduces pleasant pear-like notes and tropical tones to the blend.

• In Spain, moscatel can add its floral aromatics and bring a more table-grape dimension to the fruit character, as is the case in Saleta Moscatel-Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (£5.95). This wine has excellent balance, with the sauvignon blanc moderating any of moscatel’s sweetness with its crisp acidity and ensuring the wine remains dry.

I don’t want to tempt fate but I shall be putting all of the above in the chiller in anticipation of the appropriate weather.

If not, I may just have to turn the thermostat up.

Conrad Braganza
The Cellar Showroom

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Wed 19 Aug 2015

What, No Sauvignon?!

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Janet Wynne Evans gets acid indigestion at a music festival…

Janet Wynne Evans

Janet Wynne Evans

Another festival season draws to a close and I’ve yet to sample Glasto and glamping. I just feel too old – though many who go, including some recent headline acts, are older even than me – for anything beyond one night only at a more intimate gathering, and only then if a walking miracle from my musically misspent youth is coming to town.

Lower-key events, where every penny of a limited budget is rightly spent on the music, can be a bit unsophisticated, infrastructure-wise. No trendy ‘pop-up’ eats, unless you count a bap shooting out of a toaster to ricochet off a burger, and forget the Bolly tent. It’s beer, beer and more beer, often as much vital sponsorship as social lubricant. One venue recently rebranded itself to honour a prominent lager brand (probably not the one you’re thinking of).

Whether or not keeping the bar open for the duration of the performance was part of the deal, it was unwise, given the dwindling capacity, elderly plumbing and compromised balance of superannuated jazz cats such as myself.

As yet another projectile of said lager shot from a tremulous paw down the back of my neck (‘sorry, babes!’), I wondered irritably why these things can’t be sponsored by Domaine de Chevalier (attention, Olivier Bernard).

Just one plucky refreshment stall was offering wine, a choice of four of the usual by-the-glass suspects. Already, one of these stalwarts had been crossed out and no prizes for guessing which.

Sauvignon blancYes, the sauvignon blanc tank had run dry – and before 6pm on Day Two of a three-day event.

It’s at times like this when I marvel at sauvignon blanc. Yes, it’s delicious but one of the joys of wine is its diversity and scope for consumer capriciousness. In my formative years, Vouvray and Bergerac were hot, or, in today’s parlance, ‘cool’. Sauvignon came either from the Loire or Bordeaux, or, at great expense, from California where it was called Fumé Blanc, another creature altogether.

Sauvignon blanc goes brilliantly with salty or piquant dishes, such as the salsa verde in the recipe below...

Sauvignon blanc goes brilliantly with salty or piquant dishes, such as the salsa verde in the recipe below…

But then, New Zealand galvanised the grape, with Chile and the Cape in hot pursuit, and a rightly rattled Loire and Bordeaux fought back in earnest.

How we’ve lapped up this war of the worlds, glass in hand! According to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association we Britons drank over 750,000 litres of it last year alone, placing it way ahead of any grape of any colour, and consumption is still on an upward trend.

Enough, surely! My inner wine merchant fervently wants the wheel of retailing to turn again, to other grapes that deliver equal excitement and gratification. But the real me, on that bright summer’s night, craved a glass of sauvignon blanc, and not just because there wasn’t any.

Of course, there was a bottle in the fridge when I got home, as, I suspect there is in most people’s, waiting for a chance to hit the spot, just as it is, or to shine even more brightly with impromptu fish and chips, cold chicken or a midnight feast of melted goat’s cheese on toast. Or, come to that, to wash down the supermarket smoked-salmon sandwiches we gratefully fell upon between sets.

Note to self: smuggle it through in a cool bag in future and don’t ever forget how much you love it.

Janet Wynne Evans
Fine Wine Editor

And Now For Some Salsa…
The salty and the piquant tend to make natural partners for sauvignon blanc. With three kinds of herbs, capers, mustard, anchovies, garlic, wine vinegar and lemon juice, a classic salsa verde is a cinch. I like to serve this vivid green supercharged sauce with white fish such as hake or cod. Serving it with oilier delights like salmon may be too much of a good thing.

Recipe: Grilled Hake with Salsa Verde
The ingredients below will make a generous tubful of sauce, and you should aim to finish it off within a few days out of respect for the fresh components, and the fact that with every passing day it looks more like pond-weed. But it makes such a sublime addition to cold chicken, baked potatoes, steamed greens and more besides that this should not be a problem.

• a couple of very generous handfuls each of parsley and basil leaves
• a similar quantity of dill or tarragon
• a smaller quantity of mint leaves (about ten big leaves should do it)
• 1-2 cloves garlic, to taste
• 1 tablespoon capers, well rinsed
• 4-6 salted or brined anchovies, rinsed
• a good teaspoon of Dijon mustard
• a dash of red wine vinegar
• a tablespoon of lemon juice
• Up to 100ml olive oil, to emulsify. No need for expensive extra-virgin.
• freshly ground black pepper, or white if you prefer
• 4 thickish hake fillets, about 150g each, skin on, scales removed

First make the salsa verde: Rinse the herbs and dry thoroughly on kitchen paper before mincing them in a food-processor or blender. Add the garlic, capers and anchovies, and blend again. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. The next bit is best done manually. Stir in the mustard, vinegar and lemon juice and then add the olive oil very gradually, whisking until you have a pesto-like consistency. Season with pepper and give it a final stir. The anchovies and mustard will provide enough salt.

Now for the hake: Run your fingers over the flesh to check for pin bones which should be tweezed out to avoid cruelty to guests. Lay them skin-side up in the base of a grill pan (lose the rack). Brush with a little oil and season well. Place at the top of a preheated grill, and remain on duty lowering the position or heat when the skin begins to bubble and blister.

Depending on the thickness of the fillet, it should take 8-10 minutes for the flesh to turn opaque. Be careful not to overcook. A fork inserted into the fillet should meet with no resistance.

Lift onto warmed plates and remove the skin, which will readily peel off to reveal the moist flesh below. Some (myself included) like to eat the skin, but it’s not everyone’s choice, so best assume the latter. Add a dollop of salsa verde, having the bowl on hand for reinforcements if required. Tender little new potatoes, simply steamed or crisp, thin French fries make delicious partners.

Any self-respecting sauvignon blanc on our List should handle this with aplomb. The verdant Marlborough style is especially well-suited, but the choice is yours!

Clearly, you can never have too much sauvignon blanc, and your Society has taken that to heart, with the result that we now need to liberate some warehouse space. For a limited period, members are invited to stock up and save money on a cosmopolitan selection of sauvignons from France, New Zealand, the Cape and Chile.

Find the wines by the bottle in our Summer Clearance or stock up on the Summer Clearance Sauvignon Blanc Mixed Case with a saving of £17.50.

Categories : Miscellaneous
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MarlboroughTo coincide with our British heatwave, I am off in search of winter sauvignon blanc!

The irony that New Zealand’s summery staple is ready to taste and select in July – the middle of New Zealand’s winter – is not lost on me: while you may all be enjoying the 2014 sauvignons in the garden, at a picnic, on a terrace or balcony in the sunshine, I will be selecting next year’s gems by a fireplace, in my thermals Down Under.

Either way, enjoy the summer and sauvignon. The early reports on quality of the 2015s look great, although in smaller quantities than we would all like, so drink assured that I am chalking up the best tanks for next summer’s heatwave in anticipation.

Sarah Knowles
Society Buyer

Find Sarah’s pick of the 2014 Marlborough sauvignons in our current New Zealand offer.

Categories : New Zealand
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Denis Dubourdieu at The Society

Professor Denis Dubourdieu has just been named Decanter magazine’s Man of the Year

While New Zealand has been responsible for bringing the sauvignon blanc grape to the attention of the wine-drinking world (for which Denis and his son Fabrice Dubourdieu tell us they are grateful!), the work carried out by Denis Dubourdieu at Château Reynon in the late 1980s has also had a global impact.

A professor of oenology as well as agronomist and winemaker, Denis Dubourdieu of Bordeaux properties Château Reynon, Clos Floridène and Doisy-Daëne, made Château Reynon his laboratory. Here he carried out pioneering work on the sauvignon blanc grape developing techniques such as skin contact and lees stirring, to make wines with more intensity and character.

Now these methods are routinely used by fellow winemakers around the world, helping to make sauvignon blanc a household name; the gin and tonic of our time, some have called it!

It’s no secret that white Bordeaux is not as popular as it once was, so can lovers of kiwi sauvignon blanc convert to Bordeaux Blanc? The Dubourdieus certainly believe so: ‘thanks to New Zealand everyone knows what sauvignon blanc is and has a rough idea of how it should taste. But sauvignon blanc needs to reinvent itself all the time or it can become boring and consumers can be like unfaithful lovers, they get bored if it is always the same! You need to offer something a little different to keep their interest.’

That Denis Dubourdieu has been named Decanter magazine’s Man of the Year comes as no surprise to those familiar with his work and the huge contribution that he has made to the world of winemaking.

sauvignon blanc grapesTurning lovers of kiwi sauvignons onto Bordeaux Blanc
It’s no secret that white Bordeaux is not as popular as it once was, so can lovers of kiwi sauvignon blanc convert to Bordeaux Blanc? The Dubourdieus certainly believe so: ‘thanks to New Zealand everyone knows what sauvignon blanc is and has a rough idea of how it should taste. But sauvignon blanc needs to reinvent itself all the time or it can become boring and consumers can be like unfaithful lovers, they get bored if it is always the same! You need to offer something a little different to keep their interest.’

Their Château Reynon Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (£10.50) appeals, they say, both to those that are a bit fed up with the OTT style of sauvignons and to chardonnay lovers at the same time. ‘Delicate with white-peach aromas, it is not too aggressive,’ says Fabrice, explaining how fermentation in large old oak casks and ageing on lees and in oak provide a natural, sugar-free sweetness to the flavour, yet impart no oak character.

Elegant and fragrant, it is easy to see how this wine could seduce and attract a roving eye. It’s the perfect aperitif or match for seafood and salads, sashimi or roe.

So if you enjoy sauvignon blanc, don’t forget about Bordeaux Blanc!

Joanna Goodman
News Editor

Categories : Bordeaux, France
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This is a direct quote from one of my best friends, when he is at any bar or restaurant – it’s his favourite order.

The Wine Society Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Offer

Our pick of the 2014 crop of Marlborough sauvignon blanc is available now

It is also a common phrase I hear when indulging in my hobby of blind tasting because Marlborough sauvignon is a blind taster’s best friend: this aromatic and distinctive wine is one that most blind tasters would see as a ‘banker’ because there are a few certain traits:

Highly aromatic (at drinks parties if the hosts tipple of choice is a Marlborough sauvignon you can usually get a whiff of the heady perfume from the car as you pull up!)
Consistent and precise aromas and flavours of intense gooseberry, fresh asparagus, cut grass and passionfruit.
Light body and crisp acidity that makes you crave the next sip.

The consistent quality and recognisable style of Marlborough sauvignon I am sure goes a long way in explaining its popularity.

However, times are changing!
As Marlborough’s wine industry develops and matures, winemakers are noticing subtle differences in the grapes grown across the valley, and are experimenting more with the juice once in the winery.

Cloudy Bay for example produce two sauvignon blanc – one a very refined yet classic example and a second, Te Koko, that they treat very differently in the winery including the use of barrel aging.

As the style of Marlborough sauvignon develops I feel that, as a buyer, it starts to get a little more challenging, but also more rewarding – and I hope that our range accurately represents the best from Marlborough with a good number of classics – led by our Society and Exhibition wines, and supported by members’ favourites such as Three Terraces, Stoneburn and Wither Hills.

However, I hope you might also enjoy a few less typical but nonetheless delicious sauvignons from Marlborough such as Dog Point’s refined house sauvignon and ageworthy Section 94 and te Pa’s fresh flinty coastal wine.

Sarah Knowles
Society Buyer

A selection of Marlborough sauvignon blancs from the fresh 2014 vintage is available here, including a mixed case.

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Fri 16 May 2014

Sauvignon Blanc Day: Any Excuse…

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Today is officially Sauvignon Blanc Day.

Sauvignon Blanc grapesNational and international days seem to be popping up all over the place, but if the shoe fits…

What’s more, as The Society’s newly appointed buyer for New Zealand I feel this would be an opportunity missed not to highlight the wonderful options you have available to you with which to celebrate.

As it happens, New Zealand has just finished the 2014 harvest. Harvest reports are suggesting that the Marlborough sauvignon blanc crop this year is at all-time high levels. This is great on the one hand, as there should be plentiful volumes of sauvignon produced; however, on the other, much of this may be a little light, as rain at harvest and overloaded vines could lead to a dilution of the wonderful intensity associated with these wines.

This is why I have been tracking our favourite suppliers carefully over the last few weeks, and I am delighted that all have taken extra care this vintage to reduce their potential crop levels to ensure the delicious concentration we are used to.

Horses at work in the vineyard at Seresin

Horses at work in the vineyard at Seresin

Sauvignon ready for picking at Hunters

Sauvignon ready for picking at Hunters

Whilst we wait for them to arrive, we still have a great selection from the excellent 2013 vintage, which I humbly suggest would be just the thing for the current weather.

Hopefully you will join me this evening in having a glass or two of well-chilled sauvignon – it is, after all, ‘the day’!

Sarah Knowles
Society Buyer for New Zealand

If you would like to find out more about the 2013 Marlborough sauvignons, New Zealand-based wine writer Rebecca Gibb’s overview from earlier this year may be of interest.

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Rebecca Gibb

Rebecca Gibb

Rebecca Gibb, an English wine writer living in New Zealand, made a trip to Marlborough to taste the 2013 wines. Here she reports back on her assessment of the vintage and shares her notes on some of her favourite wines.

View The Society’s offer of 2013 Marlborough sauvignon blanc

The sun shone long and bright across New Zealand’s sauvignon capital in the months leading up to the 2013 harvest.

It was a long, sunny and dry growing season in Marlborough and across New Zealand, after two fairly unremarkable summers.

Greywacke winemaker Kevin Judd summarises the season: ‘Overall, a delightful summer with heat summation marginally above the long-term average and lots of beautiful sunny days, a stark contrast to the previous season, the coolest for 15 years, posting the lowest February sunshine hours since records began 84 years prior.’

Indeed, the 2012 sauvignons reflected the cool conditions of that vintage: growers that left too much fruit on the vines struggled to get their fruit ripe. Many of the entry-level to mid-range sauvignons were eye-wateringly high in acid, leaving you reaching for the Rennies or calling the dentist.


What a difference a year makes
The spectacular summer has given the 2013 wines a much riper fruit profile, a little more body and the acids are mouthwatering rather than eyewatering. They are beautifully balanced with moderate alcohol levels, in general. There’s also a clear flavour profile in the 2013 wines: gooseberry and elderflower flavours coupled with lemony acidity are hallmarks of the vintage.

My tasting notes:

2013 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc (sample) (£15.50 per bottle)
A restrained and serious Kiwi sauvignon. Finely balanced and pure. Forget passionfruit and sweaty armpits, this pulls back on the exuberance, offering citrus and flinty characters. It’s relatively full-bodied with good weight on the mid palate, coupled with textural layers. 18/20

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc2013 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc (£12.95 per bottle)
I’m hard to impress but this could be the best sauvignon blanc I’ve tasted in New Zealand since landing here four years ago. While James Healey, the owner/winemaker at Dog Point, really pushes the boundaries with his Section 94 Sauvignon making it a ‘love it or hate it’ wine, this sauvignon provides complex sulfide-derived struck match/flint character in balance with gooseberry, elderflower and cut grass. It is a weighty sauvignon with a waxy texture and lovely line on the finish. It’s an interesting and harmonious wine. This is next level stuff and shows sauvignon blanc could hold our interest for a lot longer yet. 19/20

2013 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (£19 per bottle)
A bright, zingy sauvignon blanc. This is not an overly exuberant Kiwi sauvignon but does offer classic varietal flavors from gooseberry and elderflower to green apple and lemon. Plenty of concentration here and crisp acidity leaves you salivating for another slurp. 18/20

Read Rebecca’s article, ‘New Zealand sauvignon blanc: the next generation’, in Wine World & News

View The Society’s offer of 2013 Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

Rebecca Gibb is an English wine writer and MW student living in New Zealand. She was the Louis Roederer Emerging Wine Writer of the Year 2010, is editor of and has her own website at

Categories : New Zealand
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Wed 01 Feb 2012

Greywacke Races on to the Scene

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Kevin Judd was born in Totton, Hampshire, emigrating to South Australia aged nine (“my parents went, and at that age you just go with the flow”) and then, with his wife Kimberley, on to New Zealand in 1983 where along with David Hohnen he was founding winemaker at LVMH’s iconic Cloudy Bay. He stayed there for 24 years. He says that his one regret is that he didn’t stay for his 25-year gold watch (LVMH also own TAG-Heuer!) but he certainly has no regrets about the path he has followed since.

2009 was the first vintage of Greywacke, so named because most of New Zealand lies upon the eponymous bedrock. The range comprises Sauvignon Blanc, Wild Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. At the end of January 60 members were fortunate enough to try six of these seven wines at Peter Gordon‘s Kopapa Café and Restaurant which had been expertly matched by Peter himself and his head chef Leigh Hartnett. We were delighted that both Kevin and Kimberley were there to talk to members about the wines in detail.

The aperitif of Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2011 was a sprightly, fresh, lime and fresh grass sauvignon which demands you have a second glass.

Smoked monkfish carpaccio

Kopapa’s speciality is tapas-style dishes, and so we had four shared small plates as our starters. The two dishes of goat’s curd panna cotta, beetroot yuzu salsa and black olive tuile, and then smoked monkfish carpaccio, white balsamic, caper & parsley dressing were a marvellous foil to the rounded, ripe, savoury, almost minty character of the Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2010 (due in February). Rich and yet palate cleansing at the same time, the savoury notes melded with the smoked monkfish as well as the classic sauvignon marriage with goat’s cheese.

The second pair of dishes (pan-fried Scottish scallops, sweet chilli & crème fraîche – Peter’s signature dish – and tempura spicy dhal inari pocket, caramelised coconut, plantain, pickled green papaya) were beautifully matched with Greywacke Riesling 2011 (it’s first showing anywhere in the world – due in June). The wine is fresh, off-dry, open, appealing with lime and mineral notes and should come with a label that says simply ‘Drink Me!’ The 20g/l residual sugar, and the lovely crisp acidity countered the sweetness of the coconut and the chilli spice perfectly.

Twice baked Crozier Blue soufflé

Next to the cheese course, and a twice baked Crozier Blue soufflé (no mean feat to produce 64 individual soufflés all at the same time!) with Jerusalem artichoke cream and a pomegranate dressing went superbly with the soft green apples and tropical fruit of the Greywacke Pinot Gris 2010, with its 8 g/l of sweetness balancing the light saltiness of the soufflé.

The beautifully cooked main course of lamb cutlet & braised lamb shank with white bean purée, kale and fig jus fitted hand in glove with Greywacke Pinot Noir 2010 (due in June). The wine, with its lovely waft of sweet cherries and cream, showed a savoury and mineral depth of huge proportion, and a fresh, almost eternal savoury finish.

To finish, Greywacke Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2009 (we believe these were the last bottles in existence) with its 90 g/l of residual sugar and its trademark lychee and Turkish delight character, and yet a freshness rarely displayed in gewurz found elsewhere, with another signature dish of banana tarte tatin and sea salt caramel ice cream.

One of three books published by Kevin

As well as arguably being New Zealand’s top winemaker, he is a very talented photographer. He has published three books – details and several images can be found by clicking on this link – and members enjoyed browsing through the books as we ate and drank.

It was a night to remember and to savour. Kevin and Kimberley moved on the next day to Denmark in their four week odyssey of the northern hemisphere, but we look forward to their return to these shores, as well as the very welcome arrival of the new vintages later this year.

Ewan Murray
Head of Tastings & Events

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Thu 01 Jul 2010

Peas Please Me with Pinot Gris!

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Peas PleaseI’ve been overdosing on asparagus since the Morris Men dusted off their bells in April, and I’m not wholly sorry to wave them off for another year. Not in the least tempted by the sprue, sorry-looking spears outstaying their welcome at seasonally-challenged supermarkets, I’m now wolfing down home-produced peas and broad beans. For them, I invariably reach for sauvignon blanc, but a much more exciting match I have found this summer is Kiwi pinot gris.

This hard-to-pin-down style, that often scores 3 or 4 on The Society’s sweetness scale can vary from soft and ample to unattractively sweet, and one reason for that is vine age. My colleague Pierre Mansour, who buys The Society’s New Zealand wines tells me that younger vines – and many of New Zealand’s pinot gris plantings fall into this category – tend to produce grapes with less concentration and more acidity, which has to be countered with residual sugar, making the resultant wines taste awkward and unbalanced. It’s the subtler sweetness in the drier, more concentrated styles our Pierre seeks out that resonate best with the sugars in the peas. I also find in Kiwi whites a uniquely leguminous quality which, unless it’s totally out of balance (what we call “asparagussy”), works brilliantly here too. Try a glass of Kumeu River pinot gris with a summer risotto, pea or bean purees (lovely with grilled lamb or fish), or the classic pasta sauce of broad beans, bacon, sage and cream.

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Thu 08 Oct 2009

Harvest Time in the Garden of France

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Jo Locke MW in the Loire

Harvest is well and truly underway in the Loire Valley and things are looking promising. Despite cool and misty mornings, day time temperatures are still approx. 25 degrees with beautiful sunshine, following a day or two of welcome rain at the start of September. Vines are healthy and Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadet are beng picked in Muscadet, Anjou and Touraine, with most wine makers waiting another week or two before picking red varieties. All are keeping their fingers crossed for what they are hoping will be one of the best vintages for many years.

Read a more in-depth article about our trip on The Wine Society website…

Categories : Loire
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