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I simply cannot think of another region in France specialized in white wine production that is able to offer such remarkable value-for-money as Muscadet. These wines come from the Atlantic extremity of the Loire valley near the city of Nantes, from an area where the light has that elusive silvery tinge that is so often reflected in its wines. If you like your whites to be always rich and buttery, better try somewhere else! On the other hand, if you feel like a more delicate touch with a silky texture that surrounds that crisp freshness that reminds one of an ocean breeze, then yes, the best Muscadets are really worth seeking out.

 

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It is not because something is « natural » that you want it in your glass!

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In its issue no: 49, the excellent Swiss magazine Vinifera, produced by Jacques Perrin, devoted a 12 page dossier to a topic that was entitled « The dream of natural wine« . As part of his investigation of this modish subject, Perrin went to the trouble to ask opinions of a number of wine professionals: wine writers, producers and university teachers. He asked them 2 questions:

 

1). « Terms such as « natural » wine, « real » wine, or « sulphur-free » wine are used quite a lot these days. Often the ensuing debate turns into a verbal boxing match that sometimes involves personal insults. Why in your opinion is this such a loaded subject and can you set out briefly your thoughts on it ? »

 

2). « As from February 2012, European legislation has adopted a biological/organic wine certification that includes wine making as well as grape growing. What do you think of this evolution and will consumers or wine producers benefit from it? »

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Sauvignon Blanc is, after Chardonnay, the best known white grape variety in the world. It probably originated in the Loire Valley where it has been identified since the 16th century and where it was initially known as « fier » or « fié ». It came to Bordeaux in the 18th century and from there travelled around the world. The Loire Valley and the Bordeaux region are thus the main producing areas for this variety in France, but it can be found in many other parts of Europe, particularly in regions with temperate climates such as Friuli in North-East Italy, Slovenia and Southern Austria (Styria), and quite a few others. In the New World, this variety has been particularly successful in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Chili, but it is New Zealand, and particularly the region of Marlborough, that has provided the modern benchmark for Sauvignon Blanc. Here the aromas can be very spectacular without the wine losing its natural freshness, and this profile has become a reference for the variety in many countries. Excessive heat is detrimental to the character of this grape and so the areas suitable for its production are determined by this constraint.

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My origins are in England and my vision of French wines now covers more than 60 years. This period has not been continuous as I have not always worked in the wine trade, but it has been full-time for the past 31 years during which I have worked in various aspects of the wine business. Appreciation of wine was handed down to me by my father who worked all his professional life for one of London’s traditional wine merchants. As an adolescent, my wine horizons were not limited to France since, although three quarters of my father’s cellar was composed of French wines, my first vinous emotions were kindled by German wines, particularly Riesling from the Mosel and Rheingau. Then came ports and sherries. Later on I learnt to appreciate French wines that had the lion’s share of what was served at the family table, although their origins were limited to three regions: Champagne, Burgundy (white and red) and Bordeaux (white and red).

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