9 Apr 2011

Wine of the week

I have now lost count of the wines that I have named "wine of the week" in the 6 months since I started this blog. I know for sure that it has not been every week, but I have tried to keep this going as a fairly regular column, and I do taste a lot of wines, so there are many candidates!

Anyway, I will only make a post when I find a wine to be particularly good, and to merit its place at whatever price, but always linked to the quality it delivers for that price. Talking of which, this weeks wine is rather expensive for its appellation (Anjou), but it is very good, so one cannot really quibble at the price, since if one put it alongside other dry white wines (to which category it belongs) at similar price levels it should show up very well.

 Les Noëls de Montbenault, Chenin 2009, (vin de France / Anjou blanc, from the Loire)

There seems to be some confusion as to the appellation of this wine, meaning its administrative designation. I bought it in a shop in Paris that sells it under the simple designation "Vin de France",  which could indicate that it did not officially receive its appellation for some silly reason. Yet I have also seen it on sale under the "Anjou" designation, which is indeed the geographical region from which it comes. Who cares, except that this may make it a little more complicated to find in a shop or on a wine list.

Its label is banal and the name of the the cuvée is hard to remember and far too long. But the proof of the pudding is always in the eating!

The main thing it that the wine is very good. It is made entirely from the chenin blanc grape, and it comes from the left bank of the Loire region near Angers. The producer's name is Richard Leroy.

tasting notes
This is a fairly powerful but perfectly dry white wine whose keen acidity just underscores its ripe citrus and tropical fruit flavours. It thus manages to be both full of flavours and very refreshing. It is one of the best wines of its type that I have come across for some time, and it is well worth its price range (20/25 euros in France, according to the retailer).

Here are links to two retailers who may have the wine in stock:



  1. You are right, if you decide to be called « Anjou », you are NOT a « Vin de France » (VDF), ... on pure administrative criteria, that is. I reckon you’ll find more and more “Vins de France “ in the years to come. Reason is simple: a lot if producers are fed up with the silliness of the Appellations system, and its constant changes. In the past, you had to resort to “Vin de Table” which, while highly appreciated in Italy (Vino da Tavola), conveyed some bad vibes in France. Now, VDF sounds good and implies: you can (not compulsory) add a vintage, you can categorize the variety, you may bottle whenever you want, you don’t need a tasting committee to grant you an agreement/label, there is no formal official analysis and ... you don’t pay the fee to the local “conseil interprofessionnel” - an added nuisance in most cases.
    There are two draw-backs, though: the upper limit in alcoholic content is 15 vol % and the bank will value your stock at a very low level indeed, irrespectively of your retail, let alone export, prices!
    As far as my humble estate is concerned, I will from now on keep “appellation” for my fortified wines (for fiscal reasons and also because I’m convinced of the superiority of “Maury”) and only for those red wines I could not keep below 15°. All the rest, including my beloved 88 year old carignan, will become VDF.

  2. French winegrowers don't produce wine now, they produce assets. Tax material. Sugar is transformed into alcohol and taxes.