Happy Birthday dear Remy Pannier! Happy Birthday to you! After a certain age, birthday celebrations lose their appeal for many. However, when you’re celebrating a 200th, it’s a huge cause for elation. Such is the case with Remy Pannier who this year celebrates 200 years of winemaking in France’s Loire Valley. The Loire is France’s second largest wine region next to Bordeaux, and has been producing wines for centuries. Remy Pannier is the valley’s largest wine producer accounting for 15% of its total production. As the most recognized name in Loire Valley wines, it sells to more than 40 countries worldwide.
Their wines have been in our market for many years, and have always captured the essence of the Garden of France, as the Loire is known. Fruit-driven, fresh, clean, extremely likeable offerings are their mantra. When head Winemaker, Karine Dugue, recently came to town to show off new vintages of many of her wines over lunch, I had to make the scene.
Cremant de Loire ‘Grande Reserve’ ($18.95, pending in Vintages) Almost off-dry, this Champagne-method bubby offers up lemon, apple, minerality with a crisp, fresh attack. Divine straight up or with poultry, fish and firm cheeses!
XNoir ($18.95, pending in Vintages) Made from Pineau D’Aunis with red fruit, spice and flower notes, this rosé sparkler is delicately seductive and a delightful tease. Turn down the lights, put some Barry White on the stereo and nibble some St André.
2010 Muscadet ($12.95, LCBO) Full of steely minerality, citrus, flowers and a slight almond hit, it’s squeaky clean and zesty. Absolute nirvana with oysters, clams and mussels!
2010 Sauvignon Blanc ($11.95, LCBO) Lively and fresh, it exudes lemony grapefruit, lime, melon and slight black currant with a hint of gooseberry. Check it out with seafood, herbed poultry or goat cheese.
2010 Sancerre ($22.95, pending in Vintages) Gotta love a white for the warm weather that’s fresh and lively with grassy, gooseberry, herbaceous minerality and crisp acidity. Divine with sushi, oysters or straight up as an aperitif!
2009 Anjou ($11.95, LCBO) Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, this baby sports honeyed pear, apple, green melon and grapefruit on all a medium-bodied, off-dry palate with decent acidity. Try it with sauced fish, pork or even slightly exotic dishes.
2010 Vouvray ($16.95, pending in Vintages) Pleasantly chalked with honeyed ripe pear, white peach, light honeysuckle, melon, and grapefruit, this little medium-dry number is crisp and tasty. Rich fish in a sauce, pork roast or nippy cheese will love it.
2010 Rosé D’Anjou ($11.95, LCBO) This #1 selling rosé in Ontario, with its light salmon/pink colour, crushed spiced strawberries/cherries and citric nuances on a crisp, elegant platform that’s off-dry, is a delight. Fab straight up by the pool or wash it down with pork kebobs, oriental cuisine or vegetarian stir-fry. You’ll want to stock up on lots of this for the spring and summer.
2010 Chinon ($14.95, pending in Vintages) Reserved cassis, cherry, herbs, tar, leather, light pepper and crisp acidity add to the appeal of this softer, Cabernet Franc inspired red. A great match to spicy tomato-based dishes, stuffed green bell peppers and medium cheeses.
There were also two non-vintaged wines in magnums (1500 mL) that are part of the new Vin de France designation, where fruit is sourced from the entire country and meant to be a step up from simple Table Wine.
The Sauvignon Blanc ($13.95, LCBO), exhibiting light grass and gooseberry, is fresh, clean and light.
The Merlot/Carginan ($13.95, LCBO) shows lots of red fruit and spice in a round, medium-bodied style. Vintage-dating these wines would certainly add some extra marketing appeal, but for a large gathering and the price, you can’t go wrong.
Agent in Ontario is Eurovintage International Wines & Spirits. www.eurovintage.com (416-494-2881).