ely wines for summer #2

Montlouis ‘Minérale+’, Frantz Saumon, Montlouis-sur-Loire
by ely sommelier Ian Brosnan

Chenin Blanc never seems to get the love it deserves here in Ireland, forever being passed over for that other “Blanc”. Maybe it’s because the wines aren’t as well known- Savennières and Vouvray don’t always jump to the mind as quickly as Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. It could be that it’s new world equivalent is often very underwhelming- let’s face it, South African Chenin Blanc cannot hold a candle to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

But more likely it is because of the wines themselves. These are not easy wines. They can be difficult to appreciate, often austere in their youth. They age wonderfully, but frequently enter a ‘teenage’ period – inexpressive and dumb- giving little indication of the wonders that will develop in future years, and wines encountered during these periods can often be misunderstood.

Chenin Blanc takes time- not necessarily time in bottle, as young Chenin Blanc can be superb- but time to get to know. And, like all things that require time to appreciate, when you finally fall under its charms, the rewards are ten-fold.

One such wine is Montlouis ‘Minérale +’- 100% Chenin Blanc, mostly from old vines. This is a ‘natural’ wine- organically grown grapes, no sulphites or additives and wild yeasts. It combines the classic Loire flavours of apples and pears, lemon, honey and  a touch of wet-wool with a precise yet balanced acidity, and an almost piercing minerality ( hence the name).  It is a wonderful partner to seafood- Scallops, oysters or simply cooked white fish. Or just sit at the bar with some calamari…

Montlouis ‘Mineral+’ is served by the glass in ely wine bar, ely place.

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