Magical Chenin Blanc
Believe it or not, I almost did NOT drink Chenin on my birthday this past weekend (insert laughter here). Those of you who know me and/or read the blog regularly have probably heard me evangelize the Chenin Blanc grape on at least on occasion. In fact, if there’s a Chief Evangelist position opening up for Chenin (specifically from the Loire), then I humbly submit my resume!
But back to the story at hand…yes this past weekend marked another trip around the sun for me. It was not a monumental number (thankfully), and for various reasons I felt like doing nothing more than cooking dinner for my partner and a dear friend and raising a glass – simple as that. Given the strangely cool weather, I opted for shrimp with white beans (also not a surprise to regular readers)! When I went digging for a wine, I honestly almost grabbed a new Arneis that has stolen my heart of late, but then I literally asked myself, “What are you doing?”
Clearly, the only answer was Chenin Blanc. And I wanted one that was going to wrap us in a blanket of sunshine, kiss our cheeks, and just generally brighten our day. So I turned to a wine that I am tempted to call an “old favorite” : Domaine du Collier Saumur Blanc. But really calling it an old favorite is misleading…I have only known the Collier wines for about five years and only had the pleasure of experiencing their loveliness a handful of times, but in a way it does feel like an old friend – sure to bring you joy at every reunion.
The folks behind this wine? Antoine Foucult and his partner Caroline Boireau! Antoine truly comes from Loire wine royalty. His late father was a partner at the much heralded Clos Rougeard. And Antoine and Caroline have been at their own project for quite a while (circa 1999). So it’s no surprise that their wines are superlative. But they still seem to fly under the radar outside hardcore wine nerd/industry circles. Maybe it’s for the best since their production is miniscule (about 1200 cases/year). They release their wines with age, and the current release of their Saumur Blanc at the shop I manage is their 2018 for $67.
I opened the bottle about an hour before our friend arrived and poured a small taste. It shimmered in the glass like my favorite gold dress, and even the shy, first sniff brought on instant familiarity – all the things I remember loving about Collier Chenin (and really all the reasons I love so many Chenins). Imagine the scent of a stack of hay bales warmed by sunshine – releasing a nutty, earthy sweetness – combined with ripe summer peaches and a hint of salty, savory Parmesan. I stashed the bottle until our friend arrived (exercising tremendous self restraint). We enjoyed the first glass on the deck as the sun set, cool wind whipping our hair, and a myriad of emotions in our minds. The wine met us there and then again at the table alongside the oh-so-comforting white beans with local shrimp. There were the same notes as the nose but with laser acidity and this mesmerizing mouth feel that felt like a potion when contrasted with the umami laden stew.