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François Chidaine Montlouis sur Loire: Les Tuffeaux, 2005

December 31, 2007

~$US20 Montlouis sur Loire, Touraine, Loire Valley, France

The Chenin Blanc grape is really something special. In the Loire valley, this grape can do just about anything – be dry, be sparkling, be sweet, be demi-sec, be fortified, be affected by noble rot, etc. But, like Riesling, sometimes you don’t know what you are going to get, unless you know the winemakers, the styles, the areas, and the vintages…The Tuffeaux is a blend of several of Chidaine’s vineyards – typically using the select (sometimes riper) grapes to make the best wine possible. I chilled this in the fridge, and popped it – not sure exactly how sweet it would be.

On the nose the complexity is dazzling – especially after it warmed up and had time to open. Apples, pears, flowers, rocks, grass, honey and asparagus (?!) On the palate it was equally beguiling – my wife and I couldn’t decide on how sweet or dry it really was. The facts were thus – there was definitely some sugar, and definitely a firm acidity. How these were proportioned is a mystery (and it changed through the course of the sip, glass, and bottle). Medium-to-full-bodied. There was an ghostly taste just after the swallow that exploded into my nose and reminded me of toast and broccoli. Very persistent finish – but dry. The finish reminded me of a red wine (flinty and Priorat-like).

All and all – a strange wine, but immediately lovable in that it was alive. Not a light, summertime-sipper. This is a versatile food wine – wonderful with exotic asian fair with spice (dim sum, korean seafood soups, spicy grilled squid, etc). An A+ effort and a great value.

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