Ina Smith from the Chenin Blanc Association presenting the tasting to the Cape Wine Masters
The Loire Masterclass, hosted by Ina Smith of the Chenin Blanc Association on 09/11/23, offered an immersive journey through the varied appellations of the Loire Valley, renowned for its Chenin Blanc. The event, attended by an enthusiastic group of Cape Wine Masters, provided a unique opportunity to explore and compare the stylistic and regional differences within the Loire’s celebrated Chenin appellations.
The masterclass commenced with a sparkling start, featuring the Domaine de Bois Mozé Crémant de Loire NV as an aperitif, setting the tone for an evening of sophisticated tastes and enlightening discussions.
Ina Smith expertly guided the attendees through an insightful presentation, highlighting the characteristics of five key appellations: Savennières, Anjou, Saumur, Chinon, and Vouvray. This was complemented by a tasting of five carefully selected wines, each representing these regions, allowing the guests to experience each appellation’s distinct sense of place and style. The lineup included notable selections such as Château d’Epiré La Croix Picot Savennières 2019 and Vignoble Brisebarre Cuvée Amédée Vouvray 2017.
Further intrigue was added with a blind tasting of five additional wines, challenging and engaging the Masters’ palates and knowledge. This segment tested their ability to identify the appellations and underscored the subtle complexities and diverse profiles of Chenin Blanc from the Loire.
Key discussions of the evening revolved around the impact of global warming on the region, particularly noticeable in the Chinon and Vouvray wines. Topics such as non-interventionist winemaking, the role of malolactic conversion, and the modern use of oak in Anjou were also keenly debated, offering deep insights into the evolving practices in the Loire Valley.
The masterclass was not only a tasting experience but also an educational journey. Comparisons between the Loire appellations and South African Chenin Blanc wines highlighted the importance of regional identity and the potential learnings from Loire’s approach to winemaking.
The five wines tasted sighted:
1. Château d’Epiré La Croix Picot Savennières 2019
2. Château de Passavant Jarret Montchenin Anjou Blanc 2016
3. Domaine du Vieux Pressoir Saumur ‘Alienor’ 2020
4. Domaine de La Bourgésière Chinon 2020
5. Vignoble Brisebarre Cuvée Amédée Vouvray 2017
The five wines tasted blind:
6. Domaine du Petit Métris Clos de la Marche Savennières 2020
7. Domaine du Petit Clocher Les Audacieuses Anjou Blanc 2020
8. La Source du Ruault La Coulée d’Aunis Saumur Blanc 2019
9. Frédéric Sigonneau Chenin Chinon 2020
10. Domaine De Beauclair Clos Des Quarts 2021
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Ina Smith for an unforgettable masterclass.
Feedback from CWM’s:
“Interesting tasting comparing regions. Made me want to come home and learn more. Read Savennières vineyards have traditionally been passed down from mother to daughter! Looking forward to another Chenin tasting comparing/contrasting Loire & RSA.” – Mary-Lou Nash CWM
“Last night’s Loire tasting was so interesting, because the differences (and similarities) between the Chenin appellations within the Loire was so clearly illustrated by Ina. Discussions between stylistic differences, e.g., the use of oak, malolactic conversion or not, the usage of certain fermentation vessels and keeping the wine on its lees, sparked some debate. Ina’s introductory flight of 5 complex wines from Savennieres, Anjou, Saumur, Chinon and Vouvray, very clearly showed their sense of place. The second blind flight saw these appellations being repeated again, in exactly the same order, and put the Masters to the test! It was generally agreed that the two wines from Vouvray were “closest to home”, but wines from the other appellations showed minerality or “flintiness”, restraint and exceptional elegance too. Altogether, a stellar line-up, enjoyed by all.” – Lizette Tolken CWM
“I was delighted not to detect Vin 7 on the nose, but rather alluring aromas of watermelon, honey, licorice and smoky toast. We were indeed presented with some expressive Chenin, displaying a surprising diversity of both flavour and texture, particularly whitin the “Rich and Ripe, Unwooded” style. In the best examples, acidity was perfectly integrated, keeping the different elements firmly in line. This translated into surprisingly structured wines with bright and persistent flavours. Thank you for this unique and memorable experience.” – Rolene Bauer CWM
“The Loire tasting was a real wine treat and I appreciated the fact that there were smaller Appellations represented, such as Savennières. The Loire was brought to us – thank you Ina!” – Catherine Dillon CWM