We are a wine shop that explores the best of both worlds with retail shopping and a walk-in tasting room open Tuesday through Sunday. Our tasting room selections change monthly and always focus on a different "Old World" and "New World" region. The ever-changing menu allows our guests to constantly explore and discover something new. This month we are exploring the Loire Valley and South Australia. Order a flight of all four wines or simply stop by, shop, and enjoy a glass. It's up to you!
Home to one of the most diverse wine regions as well as the longest river in France, the Loire Valley contains more than 63 appellations, most of which are known for their taut and zesty fresh wines. The river stretches 629 miles long from the Massif Central, a highlands region in the middle of Southern France, and winds its way west to Nantes before emptying into the Atlantic. Breathtaking chateaus line the Loire River, as the valley was once a favorite vacation spot of former kings and queens.
Four sub-regions make up the valley; Lower, Upper, Middle and Central Loire. Each produces delicious and vibrant wines unique to the soil and climate of the area. Similar to many old world wine regions, the wines are labeled by appellation, where the grapes are grown, not by grape variety.
Soils vary throughout the region, ranging from limestone, clay, silex (flint), sables (sand), dark schist, tuffeau blanc, and finally gravel. Each provides a different profile to the grapes that are grown, which in turn produces distinct wines to each appellation.
Located on the western edge near the coast, the Lower Loire is home to the maritime region of Pays Nantais and the appellation of Muscadet. Proximity to the Atlantic means the climate ranges from damp, stormy winters to cool springs and warm humid summers. The sandy and stony soils provide the necessary drainage so vines don’t over saturate. Melon de Bourgogne is the grape of Muscadet, and produces a wine that is lightly citrus and somewhat salty with pronounced acidity and minerality. Winemakers here are known to keep the wine in contact with the lees (leftover yeast) for a few months or even years during the aging process thus creating more pronounced aromatics, texture and flavors. This is known as “sur-lie” and is a term you will often see on the label. These wines are both enjoyable on their own, but also make some of the best seafood pairings.
The Middle Loire, also called Jardin de la France ("the garden of France") for its many bountiful vineyards, orchards and breathtaking scenery lining the Loire River. This is one of the warmer, yet more balanced climates of the region, providing a home to several varietals, most notably Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Chenin is not only widely popular here, but also produces some of the most compelling examples in the world, showcasing the true potential of the grape. Wines are made in several styles; dry, off-dry, sweet, sparking and semi-sparkling. Look for a wide range of high quality examples from the appellations of Anjou, Savennieres, Vouvray or Saumur. Whatever the style, Chenin brings a cleansing acidity to the palate, making the wines incredibly food-friendly across the board.
When hunting Cabernet Franc, Samur-Champigny should not be overlooked. Planted on sandy-chalky soils, this Cab Franc often provides structured, fruity and lighter bodied wines, while the wines of Chinon are also known to be red fruited, yet earthier and more herbal in tone and feel. As you move further east, you will find Sauvignon Blanc, most notably the racy, mineral-driven versions from Sancerre, but also Pouilly-Fume which is widely known for its range of high quality examples. Fun fact about Sancerre, this appellation was known for red wines before the phylloxera pandemic in the early 1900s. In the 1930s the appellation shifted entirely to the production of Sauvignon Blanc as it was more receptive to replanting than other grape varietals at the time. You can still find the occasional Sancerre rouge which is typically produced from Pinot Noir.
Finally, the Upper Loire, often overlooked, is located at the actual geographical center of France. The remains of 500 extinct volcanoes make up the granite-heavy soils with chalky clay and gravel of the Massif Central. If you love Beaujolais, keep an eye for Côte Roannaise or Côte d’Auvergne for some stand out bottles of Gamay. Pinot Noir also grows very well in this Loire Valley sub region.
This month’s old world flight takes you on a tour through some of these benchmark Loire Valley wines. Just in time for warm sunny summer days drinking on the patio, by the pool or dining al fresco.
Australia is divided into six states, with South Australia sitting in the south-central portion of the continent. The region accounts for over half of all wine production in Australia. Not surprising, most of region is extremely hot and dry driving most of the quality winemaking closer to the cooler, southeastern corner of the state. Most of the well-known sub regions sit closer to the water near the city of Adelaide and further south along the Limestone Coast.
As with most major wine regions, altitude, vineyard aspect, and proximity to water all influence which grapes are grown and where they are planted. Top appellations include Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, McClaren Vale, and Coonawarra. While the widely known Shiraz (Syrah) reigns throughout South Australia, you will also find fabulous dry Rieslings, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon. South Australia is also one of the few regions that remain largely untouched by the infamous phylloxera louse, meaning that it is not uncommon to find vines well over 100 years old in some places.
Widely known to host extremely old vines, the Barossa Valley has built its reputation for extremely full-bodied Shiraz-based reds with textured soft tannins. The climate is hot and dry, and the grapes have no trouble achieving ripeness. We are talking powerful wines with ripe dark fruits, chocolatey or mocha tones, meaty, smoky, and sometimes peppery flavors. Shiraz is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or in a ‘GSM’ blend (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre). Right next door (still part of the overall Barossa zone), the Eden Valley sits a little higher up to the east and is known to produce wines of higher acidity and elegance. These can include more elegant versions of Shiraz, or crisp, racy dry Riesling.
Clare Valley sits on its own well north and slightly west of Barossa and is known to produce some of the best dry Riesling in the world. These are age-able wines driven by flavors of citrus blossom, lime, green apple, and crushed rock with intense, mouthwatering acidity. The climate here is cooler and elevations significantly higher than Barossa. Red wines are typically built around Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and are typically very high quality.
Adelaide Hills, to the south of the Barossa zone, is again a bit on the cooler side, thus producing wines of more elegance. White wines are a bit more prevalent so keep your eye out for solid Sauvignon Blanc as well as high quality Chardonnays.
To the southwest of Adelaide Hills, McClaren Vale runs along the first part of the Fleurieu Penninsula. Another well-known spot for gnarly old vines, this area thrives on Shiraz driven blends, but is also known for a diversity of microclimates allowing for production of a wide array of grapes from Chardonnay, Cab and Merlot to Tempranillo and even Sangiovese.
Finally, much further south along the coast, Coonawarra is a hugely important appellation within the Limestone Coast that is known for its unique reddish-brown “terra rosa” soils. While different varietals are produced here, Cabernet Sauvignon is the star and the wines are known to have classic red and black fruit flavors with savory tobacco, minty or eucalyptus notes.
You may or may not realize that Australian wine certainly had its heyday some time ago when the export market latched on to big, bold intense red wines built around Shiraz. Whatever your take on those ripe, extracted styles, it is clear that there is much more to discover when you take a closer look, and South Australia offers a great place to start.
South Australia Flight
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We now host curated tastings for groups of two to ten people. Our tastings are a great way to explore wines that are new to you or indulge in some of your favorite regions. Whether you are looking to learn or to simply relax, our team has you covered.