The Domaine de l'Enchantoir "Terres Blanches" Saumur 2011 was only the second vintage from this husband and wife team, Pierre & Brigitte Van den Boom, in the southwestern reach of the Tourraine region in France's Loire Valley. This part of the world is known primarily for its Anjou blancs and rouges, but Saumur grows the same grapes on a predominantly limestone soil, where schist is the rock base in Anjou. For this beauty of a chenin blanc, that translates to provocative aromas of wet stone and generous ripe honeydew melon coupled with striking acidity that delivers a much lighter, brighter drink than anticipated.
In short, this a gem of a wine, a treasure and, for less than $20 retail, a bargain.
My friend Jason at the Carriage on Court bought this sight unseen and had asked me a few times if I'd had a chance to try it. I finally grabbed a bottle and have been thinking about the next one ever since. Last week, to promote The Vine Club Carriage and I are collaborating on, we featured this wine by the glass. It was a hit.
Chenin blanc is a versatile grape that comes in many different styles from all over the world, though it's true home is the Loire Valley, France, where sparkling, still, semi-sweet, dessert-sweet and totally dry versions are made in a number of appellations. This can make the Loire grape intimidating. How do you know what you're going to get? The l'Enchantoir "Terres Blanches" seems to encompass that enigma, as first whiffs suggest an opulent, sweet wine will follow, though that's not the case. I got a touch of sugar on the attack, when first tasting, but the acidity and mineral soil qualities quickly take the spotlight and tame any residual sugar that might potentially make the wine offensive to those who loathe sweet wine. Actually, I'd say it's a gateway wine into the sweetish world, where sugar and acid coalesce with such harmony, one forgets preconceived notions and established prejudices, for the love of humanity is too great when paired with this liquid gold.
Like I said, it's a real treat.
The Van den Booms are working toward organic certification in the vineyards and apply the same, non-interventionist philosophies in the winery, allowing native yeasts to drive fermentation and avoiding additives like enzymes and metatartaric and ascorbic acids. The esteemed Daniel Johnnes, who I worked for many years ago, imports the wine.
Pair it with creamy, stinky cheese and pâte (always a favorite meal), fresh baguette preferred, or a rich cream sauce like my chicken simmered in bourbon cream sauce recipe. You could also go with Indian curry dishes with some heat.
Get yourself a bottle, then pat yourself on the back for it.
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