Apr 02 2009
By Brooke Gowen
I recently attended a luncheon at NoMi where I got to enjoy the lively and elegant wines of Pascal Jolivet, a dynamic producer from the Loire Valley, with a perfectly paired menu of fresh, seasonal foods. And, the best part was having the opportunity to learn about each of the wines we were sipping from Monsieur Jolivet himself.
Because the Loire is actually quite expansive (according to the Loire Valley Wine Bureau, it’s France’s third largest wine-producing appellation), I won’t bog you down with myriad facts and statistics about the entire region because, quite frankly, that would be overwhelming and not terribly practical. For now, I’ll stick to Pascal Jolivet’s fine wines, the appellations in the Loire from which they hail, and the foods with which they pair so beautifully. As they say in France, “Allons-y!” (“Let’s go!”)
Founded in 1987, the estate of Pascal Jolivet covers more than 70 acres in the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, both of which produce some of the (if not ‘the’) best Sauvignon Blancs in the world. (Remember: Sancerre=Sauvignon Blanc on a wine list.) Sancerre is perhaps the most famous appellation of the Loire and produces Sauvignon Blancs which are imitated the world over.
Pascal Jolivet wines are balanced, clean, pure, fruity and elegant. He uses no oak in his white wines, and a little in the production of his Sancerre Rouge, which is a fruity, supple red made from Pinot Noir. Jolivet’s philosophy is to let nature make the wines as much as possible, which ‘is’ possible because of the unique terroir and growing conditions of the Loire. Using no chemicals whatsoever in the winemaking process, Jolivet wines are fermented in stainless steel vats with naturally occurring yeasts which results in a classically-styled Loire white that is so clean and pure that, according to Jolivet, “can be sipped all day and night and you’ll never get tired or have a headache.” Perhaps I’ll have to try this out?
At NoMi we sipped a Pol Roger Pure Extra Cuvee de Reserve as an aperitif; a 2007 Sancerre and a 2007 Pouilly Fume with Spring Artichoke Soup and a Contemporary Greek Salad; a 2007 Sancerre “Les Caillottes” and 2007 Sancerre “Chateau de Nozay” with a Sushi Platter; and a 2006 Pouilly Fume “Indigene” and a 2004 Sancerre Rouge “Sauvage” with a cheese course. This menu gives you the idea of the kinds of foods that pair well with Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire: shellfish; sushi; light summer salads; goat cheese and other soft cheeses.
Have you had a great wine from the Loire recently and what foods did you enjoy it with?