From: Loire, France
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Taste: You might do a double take after your first sip of this mouthwatering blanc from Domaine de Reuilly and wonder, “Is this Chablis?” It is not Chardonnay from Chablis, but Sauvignon Blanc from the eastern slice of the Loire region! Like the best Burgundian Chardonnay, however, this Sauvignon Blanc serves to transmit its Reuilly-ness more than its Sauvignon Blanc-ness. Instead of tropical, heavily grassy notes, you get a lean, chiseled frame with hints of crushed rock and citrus. The limestone parcel where it originates is called “Les Pierres Plates”—the flat stones—which is filled with fossilized shells from the Kimmeridgian period, when France was covered by ocean. Where you find this soil in Chablis and parts of Champagne, you also find bone-dry, flinty, almost saline wines that are the soulmates of shellfish. Denis Jamain of Domaine de Reuilly farms organically and biodynamically, which allows this single-vineyard Sauvignon’s minéralité to sing its purest song.
Pairing: Go fresh with this wine. Shellfish or white fish, asparagus, goat cheese, risotto with asparagus or peas (keep going for recipe), fresh leafy greens, sushi, and basically anything that makes you crave spring flavors.
Risotto with Asparagus and Pesto
By Martha Rose Shulman
When tasting the wines of Denis Jamain, it is clear that the appellation of Reuilly, in the eastern Loire, is experiencing a renaissance, moving far beyond its former status as the “poor man’s Sancerre.” This land was once a source of great pride, having been part of a gift of the 7th century king, Dagobert, to the Royal Abbey of Saint Denis. Phylloxera had ravaged the majority of the vineyards here in the late 19th century, but Camille Rousseau (Denis’ maternal grandfather) had faith in the future of Reuilly. In 1935, he planted his first vines here, in addition to farming a large oak forest on the outskirts of town. Denis shares his grandfather’s passion for the vineyards and the forest, as well as his hometown pride. Though he studied in the United States and speaks excellent English, this charismatic and friendly gentleman wanted nothing more than to return home to take over the family domaine. In 1990, Denis began adding to the family holdings. Today, he farms a total of seventeen hectares in the heart of the appellation, with eleven planted to Sauvignon Blanc, four planted to Pinot Noir, and two planted to Pinot Gris, which makes his superb and distinctive Reuilly rosé.
The soils here are rich, resting on the prized Kimmeridgian limestone, a geological chain that connects the Loire Valley with Chablis in Burgundy. This limestone is valued for its high content of marine and shell fossils dating back 150 million years ago to the Jurassic period. These minerals are without equal for producing some of the most beautiful whites in France. Denis has been practicing sustainable agriculture for many years and has recently started the conversion process for organic certification. Though he uses both stainless steel tanks and oak, Denis is very proud to be able to select special oaks from his grandfather’s forest to make his barrels. This is the concept of “local” in its purest form.
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