Posts Tagged Vouvray Le Haut Lieu

Sunshine wine: Four Loire bottles for perfect summer drinking

First published in The Irish Times, 6th August, 2022

I’m sure I’m not the only one who, in midwinter, dreams of being transported to France, where I can be found dozing on the banks of a slow-moving river in the shade of a tree, bottle of wine chilling in the water (attached to a string), with a picnic of locally bought cheese, salad, charcuterie, cold butter and a freshly baked baguette. The sun is shining and there is a gentle, cooling breeze.

I have come close to this idyll, mainly on holidays in the southwest of France, but for many of us it means the Loire valley. The region seems to promise gentle sunshine and memories of holidays past. The Loire is the longest river in France, just over 1,000km from its start in the Massif Centrale in southeastern France until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean in Saint-Nazaire. Grapes are grown along much of the river, providing us with a huge array of wines. Every style, from sparkling to sweet, is produced.

The white wines share a crisp, refreshing acidity and vibrant fruitiness, while most of the reds have an elegance and lightness. Both styles make for perfect summer drinking. I covered the red wines a few weeks ago. As for the white wines, I covered Muscadet in June, and the two other most widely grown varieties are Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.

Sauvignon is grown in various parts of the globe, but the Loire is its spiritual home and source of some of the finest examples. Loire Sauvignon tends to be drier, the fruit a little less exuberant, often with a brisk cleansing mineral acidity. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are the best-known names and produce most of the finest wines, but Quincy, Reuilly, Coteaux du Giennois, Menetou-Salon and Touraine can also produce fine examples. Many of the less expensive versions, which can be very good value, will simply be labelled Val de Loire.

Chenin Blanc produces almost every style of wine, from sparkling through dry, semi-dry to lusciously sweet. Even the sweetest wines have a wonderful pure acidity that refreshes. While some young wines can seem a little austere, they go beautifully with food. The best wines will last and improve for decades, taking on a honeyed richness. Vouvray is the best-known name but Savennières Anjou, Saumur and Montlouis are all home to some excellent producers.

Sauvignon goes well with sushi, plainly cooked fish, goat’s cheese, herby salads, sauces such as pesto and fresh tomatoes of all kinds. Although less aromatic than Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc goes with most of the above foods, including plainly grilled fish, trout, poached salmon, and all sorts of summer salads.

And of course, both wines would be perfect for that al fresco lunch by the river.

Le Grand Cerf, Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2020

12.5%, €12.95 down from €15.95

Lightly aromatic with attractive ripe green fruits and lemon zest, finishing crisp and dry. A great summery aperitif or with lighter seafood and herby salads.

From: O’Briens

Pouilly-Fumé 2021, Domaine des Berthiers, Jean-Claude Dagueneau

13%, €20.18

A wonderful winning combination of perfectly ripe succulent green fruits and mouth-watering flinty mineral acidity. Great on its own, but even better with goat’s cheese, tomato salads or simply cooked white or oily fish. Outstanding value for money.


Sinople Chinon 2020, Cru du Chateau de Coulaine Organic

13%, €25

Deep gold colour, light with lemon zest and pears, overlaid with honey, light toast and spice. A lovely atypical complex wine that demands food. Baked salmon, chicken with lemon or roast cauliflower with tahini would be good matches.

From: Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown

Vouvray Sec 2019, Le Haut-Lieu, Domaine Huet, Biodynamic

13%, €44

A nicely floral nose; youthful green apple, quince and pear fruits with a strong mineral backbone. A subtle, complex and precise wine with wonderful balance. Enjoy now with grilled white fish and other lighter seafood dishes or keep for up to a decade.

From: 64 Wine, Glasthule; Avoca, D4, Rathcoole, Malahide; Blackrock Cellar; Deveneys, Dundrum; Grapevine, Dalkey; La Touche, Greystones; McHugh’s, D5; Mitchell & Son, IFSC, Glashtule; Neighbourhood Wine; Redmonds, D6

Posted in: Irish Times

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Eight Green Bottles – a weekend’s drinking

Eight Green Bottles – a weekend’s drinking


Before the health brigade get going, this included Thursday, there are two of us and, as you can see, not everything was finished! From right to left.

Domaine Begude Le Paradis Viognier 2015, IGP Pays d’Oc, Organic

I don’t think the agents (O’Briens) are importing this, but they should certainly think about it. Just what you would expect from a cool-climate Viognier; lovely clean peach fruits, good acidity and a crisp dry finish. It doesn’t have the richness of Viognier from warmer climes, nor the bitter fruit-stone finish, but this is a very well-made refreshing wine.

Le Mas 2014, Coteaux du Languedoc, Domaine Clavel, Organic
€14.70 from Wines Direct

Jean Clavel was one of the great personalities of the Languedoc. His son Pierre now produces the wine. This is a lovely easy-drinking fruity wine, warming, lightly spicy with plums and a tannin-free finish. Great value too.

Domaine des Nugues 2013, Beaujolais Villages
€16.75 from Martin’s, Fairview & 64wine,Glasthule.

A delicious Beaujolais, humming with elegant crunchy red fruits. A wine of the week in the Irish Times a few weeks back.

Vouvray Sec le Haut-Lieu 1990, Domaine Huet

Dug out from the cellar and should have been dug out years ago. Old, madeirised and past it, unless you are into very orange wine.

Stemmler Carneros Pinot Noir 2012, USA

A present from my sister, who lives in California, last year. Nice wine – meaty, even v slightly bretty?, with clean ripe juicy plum fruits. Quite substantial and concentrated. very enjoyable with my roast chicken.

Tio Pepe Fino En Rama, Jerez

I love fino and I love the en rama style, which tends to have a bit more character.This is lovely; fresh, tangy, bone dry with almonds and citrus peel.

Verus Furmint 2014, Ormoz, Slovenia

A mere 12% but a delicious fresh fruity light white wine – will appear in the Irish Times a few weeks hence.

Dveri Pax Sipon/Furmint Ilovci 2011
€20.99 from Wines on the Green

Don’t be put off by the vintage; this is lovely wine. Will also appear in the Irish Times shortly.

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