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Telegraph / Life - Entertain

For an (unoaked) taste of the Loire Valley, try Amanda's Wines

It’s exactly now – early March, whatever the weather – that my taste in wine begins to shift.

It’s exactly now – early March, whatever the weather – that my taste in wine begins to shift. Those rich, savoury reds and oaky, buttery whites lose some of their appeal, young rosés start to call to me again, and crisp light whites, grassy and zingy with citrus, reclaim their place in the fridge.

Just the moment, then, to discover Amanda’s Wines (amandaswines.co.uk), the bijou and rather brilliant independent merchant founded by Amanda Gallou a decade ago, showcasing Loire Valley wines of extraordinary clarity and elegance.

Gallou (she’s British, married to a Touraine grape grower) has sourced her select range from smaller producers up and down the banks of the Loire river. And her taste, I think, is for wines with decidedly spring-like styles.

Most importantly, she really hates oak. There isn’t a single wine on her list that has seen the inside of a barrel. ‘Oak flavour can be blousy, heavy, quite overpowering,’ she says.

Instead she champions ‘balanced, diverse, food-friendly’ unoaked Loires, from the whistle-clean sauvignon blancs of Touraine and Sancerre, to honeyed and dry chenin blancs, lively fizz, and fresh, pure-tasting reds made from cabernet franc or pinot noir. And if you haven’t tried the obscure grape arbois…

Her online tasting notes are as exuberant as her wines, and prices – given the high quality – are in good check.

So if your taste buds are calling for a spring clean too, you might meander down the river with her.

Try these...

Domaine la Gemière Sancerre Blanc 2015, Loire, France £16.50
A top-notch sauvignon blanc from the grape’s most famous French region, this is a crystalline, whistle-clean dry white shot through with lemon, yet not a bit sour. A classic match for shellfish or goat’s cheese.

Domaine de la Racauderie Vouvray Sec 2016, Loire, France £11.60

Intriguing chenin blanc, fresh and fruity with a cocktail of apple, quince and pear, but rounded with a soft-honeyed dab, though ending dry. Match with white fish in buttery sauces, or light chicken dishes.

La Chevalerie St Nicolas de Bourgueil 2016, Loire, France £11.83

Youthful cabernet franc, well balanced, aromatic and packed with strawberries, plums and cherries. Finishes with a fine dusting of tannins, so a ‘food’ red – ideally opened with duck, steak or grilled lamb.