Beat the Heat with Loire Valley Wines
As the weather in Nashville begins to heat up, most people think of breaking out the grill and cracking into a cold bottle of beer. But for the wine drinkers among us, summertime means the return of the same standard wines that, though delicious, lack that element of excitement that the warming of the weather calls for. While we know there are better options out there, sometimes we just don’t have the time to look for them. Luckily for the discerning drinker, we have you covered! France’s Loire Valley offers a wide range of wines whose bright acidity pairs perfectly with summertime heat.
Louis de Grenelle Saumur Brut Rose NV
A frankly ludicrous value, this traditional method sparkling wine from Saumur is made from 100% hand-harvested Cabernet Franc. The 24 months it spends aging on lees before disgorgement is longer than the minimum for NV Champagne (you know, the kind that would run you $50), all for a mere $20. A prime candidate for gulping all summer long, and pairing with a wide array of lighter grill fare.
Pierre Luneau-Papin “Clos des Allées” Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie 2013
Commonly confused with Moscato, this totally DRY white wine from the far western reaches of the Loire valley is made from hand-harvested Melon de Bourgogne grapes. Extended aging on lees balances the natural acidity of this Muscadet with a lovely structure and mouthfeel. Perfect for the Chardonnay drinker looking to branch out, or for pairing with that bread and herb-crusted halibut you’re serving.
Joseph Mellot Sancerre Rouge “Le Rabault” 2011
Known mostly for its bright and refreshing white wines, Sancerre is also home to a delicious selection of red wines made from Pinot Noir. This particular offering, from steep hillside vineyards planted with 30-year-old vines, offers a tantalizing balance between the acidity the Loire is known for, and the ripe cherry and currant notes that a good vintage for Loire reds can provide. If you’re grilling any kind of chicken or heavier fish this summer, this is your wine. Try serving it at cellar temperature (around 58°F) to beat the summer heat!
When Sierra Nevada Brewery began exploring the idea of opening an eastern brewery, the city of Alcoa, Tennessee was on their short list. In an effort to draw them to our great state of Tennessee, the legislature passed a bill, which Governor Haslam then signed into law, which makes our state regulations more attractive to the brewery, allowing them to produce high-alcohol content beer and perform tastings on site.
Want a taste?
As a much welcomed by-product of this new law, we can now have in-store tastings of our own and for the last two months they’ve been a huge success. If you haven’t had a chance to come by Midtown for one of them, we’d love to have you join us as we sample four different wines, every Friday and Saturday, from 2-7 p.m.
But since everyone’s schedules are different and you might not always be able to make it by, we thought it’d be good to post our own notes from the tastings and let you know what people have been saying about the wines!
After popular polling on our Facebook page and via our e-newsletter, Oregon won and we’re featuring some delicious wines from that far northwestern region of the U.S, from producers Acrobat and The Rascal.
Acrobat by King Estate Pinot Gris 2009
This was one of our most successful Midtown Online Exclusive offers this summer, and after such success, it seemed natural to select it for our Oregon tasting. Wine & Spirits Magazine scored it 90 points, describing it as “clean and citrusy in scent, with a soft leesy note, this brisk gris has a peppery phenolic bite that makes it ideal for pairing with whole-roasted fish.” We couldn’t agree more with their overall description, but what has really impressed us most is how well the citrusy notes and vibrant acidity balance with the creamy mouth-feel.
$13.99 / 750 ml
The Rascal Pinot Gris 2010
These wines from the Willamette Valley, arguably Oregon’s finest appellation, are brand new to Midtown. And for $9.99, they represent some of the best bargains the entire state has to offer. This Pinot Gris is not as floral or creamy as the Acrobat, instead offering tropical fruit notes and finishing with just the slightest touch of sweetness. It has been the hands-down customer favorite this weekend!
$9.99 / 750 ml
The Rascal Pinot Noir
With the scorching hot weather we’ve had here in Nashville, this light-bodied and fruit-forward Pinot Noir is the perfect red wine. With aromas and flavors of bright black cherry and soft raspberry, soft tannins and a touch of spice, it’s classic Pinot. It’s an easy-drinker that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
$9.99 / 750 ml
Acrobat by King Estate Pinot Noir 2009
The counterpart to our first wine, this bottling also received high praise from Wine & Spirits. They gave it 91 points, calling it “as bright and fruity as a Beaujolais, this youthful pinot leads with scents of raspberries and red cherries and a woodsy bottom note. The flavors are light and fresh, the fruit giving way to a mild amaro-like bitterness. A great pinot to stock up on.” As the second label for Oregon powerhouse King Estate, we would expect nothing less.
$19.99 / 750 ml
We hope you can make it in for our next tasting — the poll is still going over on Facebook so please vote and help select our next wines!
Here’s a tidbit I came across over at The Wine Spectator. Senior Editor James Laube has tasted more than a few Pinot Noirs from the vintage in question, and he thinks it could be one for the record books. Here’s a sliver of his latest blog post:
“Pinot lovers have never had it this good.
We’re finishing our tastings of mostly 2009s and, the trending is amazing: We’ve already rated more outstanding 2009s than in any other vintage. So far, more than 50 percent of the wines reviewed have been outstanding or better, an unprecedented number. In a typical vintage we’ll taste more than 600 wines (and nearly 700 in the magnificent 2007 vintage).
The 2009 growing season is the main reason. It came off without a hitch and early on, as the grapes began their stretch run of ripening, winemakers could see the possibilities. Surely, it was an easier year than 2008, where uneven ripening, spring frosts and summer wild fires contributed to the challenge of making great wines. But a surprising number of 2008s offset those that lacked balance.
I imagine that several factors are in play with 2009 as well. Each year, vineyards mature and growers are more in tune with the grapes’ development. Winemakers gain experience, too, and there is no way to teach experience…”
With the heat and humidity here in Nashville, lighter-bodied reds are in style, and Pinot Noir falls right into that category.
Here are some of our favorite 2009s from the Golden State, good for any budget:
Montoya Pinot Noir Monterey County — $12.99
Cline Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast — $14.99
Belle Glos “Meiomi” Pinot Noir Sonoma/Santa Barbara/Monterey — $19.99
La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast — $25.99
Black Dog Cellars Pinot Noir Russian River Valley — $27.99
A.P. Vin Gary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands — $49.99