"Order my book on the Roussillon wine region (colour paperback) DIRECT FROM ME SAVING £4/€4 (UK & EU only), or Kindle eBook on Amazon UK. Available in the USA from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook; or Amazon.com. For other countries, tap here." Richard Mark James

France - Loire Valley

Including focuses on Pinot Noir rosé and red, Sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc; a 'Silex' tasting of Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre; Sancerre vertical 2005-1996 vintages; profiles of Domaine Forges Quarts de Chaume and Muscadet Guilbaud Frères...

Domaine des Forges Quarts de Chaume 2007 ("sweetie of the mo" May 2014).

"The next in this nail-biting mini-series - see Centre-Loire 'silex' tasting below - brings about a seasonal change of colour and grape variety, and highlights a handful of lesser-known wines from this part of central-northern France. Rosés from Sancerre, Menetou-Salon et al seem to have made headway in recent years gaining listings in some supermarkets even; but the reds are still fairly rare outside of France or specialist independent wine shops. The main variety behind these wines, that dear old friend Pinot Noir, only comes to about 20% of what's planted in the region; plus there's a tiny bit of Pinot Gris too in Reuilly used for rosé (thanks to the pinkish hue on its skin). I've included a lot less of the reds than I actually tasted (in London a few weeks ago), as disappointingly too many of them were a little lean on flavour and lacked charm or excitement. Which does make you question whether Pinot Noir for reds has a great future here, if it only really produces high-standard wines in particular vintages or sites? Then again, I guess they can always make nice rosé out of it every year!..."
Click on the title above to find my dozen favourite reds and rosés!

Silex photo© Benoit Roumet

Menetou-Salon - Pouilly-Fumé - Sancerre

"Silex? Sounds like a distant planet in an implausible sci-fi movie, but silex actually comes from the Latin for a kind of hard flint, although it can also mean silica in modern English according to Wikipedia. Anyway, this wasn't a rock-sucking tasting but of ten 2010 vintage whites from the Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre regions in the central Loire Valley, where in places this type of soil crops up mixed with clay. Well, do these wines really taste 'flinty'?..." Click on the title above for more words and my top ten Sauvignon blancs!

Vertical tasting 2005 to 1996...

"Not a spotlight on cobwebbed-infested bottles of the Centre-Loire Valley's best-known dry white wine, but an intriguing vertical tasting of Sancerre ranging from a youthful seven to brooding sixteen years old (and juxtaposing a variety of very different vintages). You wouldn't usually expect anyone to talk about Sauvignon blanc wines and bottle age in the same sentence, but it just goes to show what a surprising variety Sauvignon can be..."
Click on the title above to read more about this extraordinary tasting inc. notes on 10 surprising wines (in more sense than one)!

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.