Set high on a prominence that overlooks the Loire River and its embankments, 130 hectares of Château Moncontour make for one of the oldest and famous estates in Touraine–a Loire Valley sub-region where the namesake river meets two of its main tributaries, the Indre-et-Loire and Loir-et-Cher. Dating to the mid-15th-century, the Renaissance-era château was built by King Charles VII as one of the many gifts lavished on his courtesan, Agnès Sorel. Euphemistically known as ‘Dame de Beauté,’ the courtly influence of Agnès was one bookend in the life and fortunes of the king; the other came disguised as a boy but was actually a country maiden, Jeanne d’Arc (aka ‘La Pucelle d’Orléans’). Her religiously-inspired military campaign to challenge the occupying English armies was a deciding factor in Charles’ quest to resecure his crown and fractured lands. Among other tales linked to the Moncontour estate in the ensuing ages is the partial destruction by fire during the French revolution, and then becoming an elusive fascination for the 19th-century author, Honoré de Balzac, who featured its twin white turrets and brambled riverbanks in his published and personal writings–perhaps, while giddily inspired by the bottled bounty of its vineyards!
As with most Crémant, this week’s effervescent bottling has been produced by a double fermentation process generally referred to as méthode Champenoise, though, the term was made proprietary in the 1980’s to only wines originating from the Champagne AOC appellation in north-eastern France. This was justified to guard the distinct typicity of that region’s sparkling wines but doesn’t directly infer a higher level of quality. Moreover, the highly-variable pricing for bonafide Champagnes tends to be among the most arbitrary of all premium wine styles in France–frequently more informed by what the market is willing to pay rather than how much effort has been invested by the vintner. This week’s feature of Château Moncontour Cuvée Prédilection Brut Vouvray 2015, is made with 100% Chenin Blanc grapes sourced within the Vouvray AOC boundaries and finished in an equivalent crémant-making technique called méthode traditionnelle.
Moncontour’s current custodial vintners are the Feray Family, who since 1994 has been drawing Chenin Blanc fruit (aka Pineau de la Loire) from numerous small plots dotted around the village of Vouvray. Influenced by the sedimentary rock and clay soils that are typical of the surrounding region of Touraine, this local cultivar imparts a distinct minerality along with a high level of acidity–making it an ideal base for the pétillant (sparkling) versions of Vouvray. In having spent 24 months ageing in the bottle before disgorgement, final corking, and release, this is reasonably priced just above the standard DéClassé threshold. Nonetheless, you will chide yourself endlessly for not having bought more of this limited release before the long wait until next summer!
CHÂTEAU MONCONTOUR CUVÉE PRÉDILECTION BRUT VOUVRAY 2015
VINTAGES/LCBO – Product #168963 | 750 mL bottle
Sugar Content Descriptor: D
Made in: Loire, France
By: Château Moncontour
Release Date: July 21, 2018
This straw-yellow sparkler has aromas of stone fruit, followed by peach, apple and lime-tinged flavours–accented by some nutty and baked brioche notes that are expected from its production method. The lively mousse is a refreshing counterpoint to warm weather and a complement for the many more ‘al fresco’ meals to come! Try as an apéritif or with lighter fare such as fresh salads, goat cheese tartlets, pâté and seasoned bread crisps or alongside moderately spicy Asian appetizers.
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