Guy Rochais is my kind of wine maker. A barrel-chested moustached, friendly but gruff real-life version of the French cartoon character Asterix’s sidekick Obelix. He managed to humbly boast about his wines as he twisted my arm to taste through his entire flight of wines. His spell on me was also helped by the fact that he makes organic and biodynamic wine in the Loire. He grows most of his grapes in the town of Savennières, and by tradition his white grapes are Chenin Blanc. I met him at a trade show that featured a few other Loire producers, but his wines connected with my palate, and this Chaume Sec is a unique offering in that wines from Chaume wines are usually a sweet wine, and Rochais makes this one dry.
The Loire is such an exciting crossroads for wine as traditions run deep, but yet so much diversity remains. A modern day wine Darwin might find this region as blessed with diversity as the Galapagos with animal species.
So what makes this Chaume wine different from his Savennières? It starts with greater concentration of characteristics, not surprising as these grapes would have otherwise gone into a sweet wine where flavour at least tends to get concentrated, often by means that dehydrate the grape. I didn’t think to ask him if this was a late harvest wine, so I hope I get to meet him again to follow-up!
On the nose the wine showed more citrus than most Loire Chenin Blanc wines. Into the Gulp the L’Insolent Chaume sec hit all the right notes. Palpable citrus, apple, mineral and acid danced together and demonstrated a graceful mouthfeel all the way through.
I try to avoid any discussion that gets to technical, but this is important, the graceful mouthfeel is important as those varied taste components could complicate the wine, and I believe that mouthfeel owes some it’s presence to the year this wine spent in wood barrels. Sadly this wine has virtually no North American distribution, that is too bad – I think every wine store could pull one BDX red, Aussie Shiraz, Mendoza Malbec or California fruti bomb off the shelves and make room for wines like these.
Musical Match: Soprano Joyce DiDonata brings a grace, colour and maybe a drop of her hometown Kansas City BBQ sauce to the Gershwin brother penned “By Strauss” It may not be obvious but that wood has a positive influence on the wine, just like DiDonata’s KC BBQ background keeps her rooted.