Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 13 February 2009

Sauvignon Blanc Project tasting

Sauvignon Blanc 2008

I’m off back to the Loire in the middle of next week for a tasting in Tours of the first fruits of the new Sauvignon Blanc project. I’ll be meeting up with Sam Harrop MW, who is the consultant on this project. Sam has been the external consultant for the earlier Cabernet Franc project. Also involved in the tasting is my frequent Loire companion, Sarah Ahmed (the wine detective) and the ebullient and inimitable Joe Wadsack. Originally Jamie Goode, who I tasted with in Paris on last year’s Cabernet Franc Ambassadors’ tasting, was due have been coming but presumably his busy schedule has made that impossible and Joe is coming instead.

Sam Harrop MW

The Sauvignon Blanc project started on 3rd June 2008 with an agreement between AOC Touraine and Vins de Pays du Val de Loire and will last through to 2011. It also involves InterLoire (the promotional and administrative organisation for the Loire’s appellation vineyards from the Pays Nantais through to Touraine, Anivit Val de Loire (regional organisation for Vins de Pays from Loire) and ANIVIT (national organisation for Vins de Pays). The project does not include the Central Vineyards area ie Sancerre, Pouilly etc.

The Loire has 7021 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc planted – fractionally ahead of Aquitaine with 6997ha. The project focuses on Sauvignon Blanc vineyards outside of the Centre region, which account for 3,293ha. Nearly 80% of AC Touraine white is Sauvignon Blanc. In 2007 Sauvignon Blanc production accounted for 102,000hl and represents 1,900 ha in terms of surface area. Exports of Sauvignon reached 30,000hl 929%) in 2007, of which 45% were to the UK.

Sarah Ahmed in Sancerre: August 2008

In the first instance, as with the Cabernet Franc project, the initial focus is on the UK market with the following aims:

• Match the market’s expectations in terms of product quality
• Increase the reputation of ‘Sauvignon Blanc de Loire’ on the export markets
• Increase the “Sauvignon Blanc de Loire” selling price to bring more value to the range
• Increase sales volumes on the export markets.

Certainly one of the big concerns has been the low price of Touraine Sauvignon particularly in relation to that of Sancerre and Pouilly. Some of the Sauvignon made in Touraine is the equal of much of that from the Central Vineyards but by no means all of it. Unfortunately the low price means that the producers are not able to make the investment in machinery and winery equipment that has become commonplace in the Central Vineyards.

Apparently there are now some 80 producers involved in the project, which as it involves both AC Touraine and VDP is a bigger project than the Cabernet Franc. The wines we will be tasting will all come from the 2008 vintage, will have to be approved as either Vins de Pays du Val de Loire or AC Touraine and have a minimum of 2000 bottles for sale.

The tasting will be on Thursday and Friday. As I get to Tours on Wednesday afternoon I’m hoping it will be possible to fix up some visits to see some of the emerging bright stars of Montlouis. Yes I know Montlouis is planted with Chenin Blanc but it is the closest appellation to Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, Tours mainline station.

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