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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Muscadet: the princess of Loire Valley

      Maybe you know Muscat, one of the best sweet varietals around the world. Maybe you know Muscadelle a common Bordeaux white varietal. But how about Muscadet, it sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Have you ever tasted this light white wine from West Loire Valley? Today we will introduce this beautiful wine region: Muscadet.

    Muscadet is located around the biggest city in the northwest of France, it is separated by 4 different appellations, one is at the upper side of Loire Valley, the others are at the under side. There is 13,000 hectares (32,000 acres) of vineyard but only one grape variety: Melon de Bourgogne.

      As its name suggests, this grape variety is come from Burgundy, it almost disappeared there after the phylloxera crisis. However, it regained a new life in the region of Pays de la Loire. Because Melon de Bourgogne can easily adapt to the maritime climate of this region, and resist to the frost in winter and early spring time.


    In Muscadet, there are three major soils: Granit – Micaschiste – Gneiss. These soils have a good ability of drainage, especially in the humid maritime climate region.

Sur lie:

      Melon de Bourgogne is a relatively neutral and simple varietal, in order to get more flavors and complexity, winemakers in Muscadet use a technique called “sur lie”. Generally speaking, the white wine is aging in the oak with in the dead yeast cells which is left after fermentation.

Food Matching:
Muscadet matches very well with light sea food, like:

Fresh oyster

Spaghetti with Clams and Crispy Bread Crumbs

Swordfish with rice

Rounded Sardine with Conch 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Three great Sauvignon regions that we have forgotten

      When we talk about Loire Center white wine, most of people can directly remind of two appellations: Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, however there are also three small appellations closed to Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, where we can find very interesting Sauvignon as good as Sancerre’s. Today we will show you the mystery of Menetou-Salon, Quincy and Reuilly.


      There are only 465 hectares in this appellation, including 348 hectares of Sauvignon and 187 hectares of Pinot noire. All the grapes are planted on the slope of hills between 220m and 280m altitude. Most of the wine is sold in France, only 12% of production was exported to UK, Holland, Belgium, Germany and USA. The terroir is based on chalky and limestone soil that is very similar to Sancerre’s. Generally speaking, compared with Sancerre’s Sauvignon, Menetou-Salon’s sauvignon has smaller structure but the same freshness. We usually find out mint, fresh grass, diverse citrus food, and especially lovely white flowers which are much more intense.


      Quincy is one of the smallest appellations in Loire Valley, 270 hectares’ area is planted by only one grape variety: Sauvignon Blanc. It is the oldest AOC in center Loire after the destroy of phylloxera. The climate here is drier and hotter than Menetou-Salon and Sancerre. The soil is completely different, all the vines are seated on the Terrace of Cher which is consisted of sand and gravel. This kind of soil is able to heat quickly under the sunshine. That’s why the aromas and flavors in their wine are plumper, richer, fruitier but not as fresh as Sancerre’s.


    Reuilly is a very small appellation with 215 hectares, including 109 hectares of Sauvignon, 63 hectares of Pinot Noir and 43 hectares of Pinot Gris. The vineyard extends along the side of Arnon River. Thanks to the drier and 
Oyster terra ce (kimmeridgian)
warmer growing season, also the large diurnal viaration between day and night, the grapes are able to reach full ripeness and to keep lovely freshness. The soil in the hillside is based on marl like Burgundy, however, the soil of oyster terrace is just like Quincy’s, which is consisted of sand and gravel. Sauvignon in this region is lighter and softer, the aromas are straight and delicate compared with Sancerre’s Sauvignon. 

      If you only taste Sauvignon of Sancerre and Pouilly fume, you will never fully understand this magical, abundant, and diverse grape variety.Therefore, we suggest you to taste Sauvignon from other regions like Marlborough in New Zealand, Adelaide Hills in Australia, Casablanca in Chlie, Washington state in California, etc.

Monday, December 16, 2013

When Sancerre from Loire Valley is invited in Bordeaux Tasting!

    Maison Joseph Mellot is celebrating this year his 500 birthday. For Bordeaux Tasting, Maison Joseph Mellot presents his vintage “special 500 ans”, the packaging was realized by a design school in Paris.

     “We are lucky, because people from Bordeaux knows our wines and appreciate us. This is the first time in Bordeaux tasting, and it’s a good opportunity to show our wines and our job.” Said Corentin Chon, Maison Joseph Mellot. “I think it’s a good way to present white dry wines in red wine environnement, it’s also nice to discover white dry wines from Bordeaux”.
    When we go to their stand, it’s time to discover Sauvignon, from the historical place in Loire Valley. The size of the wine estate is 100 hectares, 50% of the vines are in appellation Sancerre in the east of the appellation. “We’ve got 25 hectares on flint, and it is the most beautiful terroir of the appellation.” Sauvignon is the king of varietal there. The result in the bottle depends of the vines orientation, the richness and minerality of the soil and the wine making process. In this special vintage we can find citrus fruit aromas and box tree. The freshness is explosive, with a special minerality. We can associate this wine with shellfishes with lemon. 

    They have also another vintage : “la Grande Châtelaine 2010” made in oak barrel but with light aromas of brioche. The aromas of fruit are really dense, we have candied citrus aromas. We can match this wine with Christmas dishes : lobster, scallop.

      It’s Christmas soon, and it was already Christmas in the Palais de la Bourse for Bordeaux Tasting.

Monday, December 9, 2013

When Sancerre invites Chinese scallop to dance

     As we know, Sancerre white wine matches extraordinarily well with lots of seafood, but could Chinese vapored scallops match with a mineral and gorgeous Sancerre? In order to find the answer, we prepared two different bottles of Sancerre to do a tasting test, one of which, the crisper, more mineral and more intense one, won the Médaille d’Or in the Paris wine competition.

      Sometimes people say that seafood is easy to cook. On the contrary, Chinese seafood is very difficult to prepare, because if it’s just slightly overcooked then all the flavor will be gone. In addition, good Chinese seafood must not only keep the original texture of food, but also absorb every flavor from traditional condiments. For instance, with this vapored scallops, we added some Douchi sauce to improve the flavors.

Let us tell you about the recipe

Recipe for Chinese vapored scallops


Don’t even read this recipe if you don’t have a steam cooker :)
  1. 12 great scallops (the bigger the better :D)
  2. 120g of garlic (about 2 bulbs of garlics)
  3. 100g of vermicelli
  4. Half or one red bell pepper(green bell pepper is good too, for the better look)
  5. 20ml of dry white wine (if you have “shaoxing”, a Chinese alcohol, it’s better)
  6. Douchi sauce (Soy sauce if you don’t have it)
  7. Salt and peanut oil
Let’s do it!
  1. Macerate vermicelli with four times the volume of water for 30 mins
  2. Wash the great scallops and open them with thin knives, if it is really hard for you, a safer and easier way, is to boil the water and give it a “bath” for 10 seconds, that will open it without cooking the scallop,”just open up, you kill joys“)
  3. Take off the scallops and macerate them with wine and salt for 30 mins
  4. While they are macerating, chop all garlic and red bell pepper (don’t mix them)
  5. Saute garlic and red bell pepper separately (so that your dish looks better in the end)
The next step is a little difficult to measure, because you have to separate all the ingredients equally in every shell, so let me tell you how to do it! Before the next step, to save time you can heat the steam cooker.
Just after steam :) here is a simple to show you how much ingredients you should put on the shell

  1. Put the ingredients in the shell in the following order: Vermicelli, scallop, garlic, red bell peppers, and a little bit of douchi sauce (i mean, really a little, like 5 drops, 8 tops)
  2. When the water in the steam cooker is boiling, put all the prepared shells in it, and cook them for 10 mins
  3. Serve them (careful, it burns!) and then bon appetit!!!

    When we did the matching of Food&Wine, we found that both of these two Sancerre matched very well with Chinese vapored scallops, Sauvignon’s freshness and high acidity can improve the taste of scallops, at the same time, a little Douchi sauce from scallops can make the wine smoother and softer. With the help of the mineral taste, we can feel a good relationship between the body of scallops and the structure of wine, that’s a very interesting matching. 

In the end, we give you some suggestions when you choose a bottle of Sancerre for your seafood:

1. the more mineral the better;
2. It shouldn’t be too fruity;
3. It can be very dry.

And last but not least, don’t forget to chill your Sancerre wine between 9-10°before you taste it. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Who said Sauvignon Blanc can’t match with spicy food?

    We always heard that it’s totally impossible to match spicy food with white wine. Is it real or just because we follow other people s opinion. If you have never tried it, you don’t know wether it works or not. So, why not cook some spicy food and invite some good friends over to find the answer. Here we go!!!

Last Saturday night, we prepared a serious of gourmet seafood meals to find out which one matches better with the Sauvignon Blanc of Loire Valley. Our biggest surprise  was the unbelievable matching of spicy baby squid with a robust Sauvignon Blanc of Sancerre. Let me tell you their impressive STORY.

Let me first tell you about the recipe:

Spicy baby squids cooked with chili peppers (Attention, spicy as hell)

  1. 500g of baby squids
  2. 20-100g of red chili pepper, 20-100g of green chili pepper (make sure to be light handed with the chili pepper if you think that you can’t handle it)
  3. Four cloves of garlic.
  4. Four slices of ginger
  5. 20g of leeks
  6. 4 spoons of white wine (shaoxin alcohol would be better)
  7. 6-10 tea spoons of salt
  8. 3 tea spoons of sugar
  9. 4 - 8 spoons of soy sauce
  10. a half ladle of peanut oil

Let’s do it!
  1. Macerate the squid with white wine and salt
  2. At the same time, heat the wok with peanut oil
  3. When the wok gets very hot, chop the chili peppers, leeks and garlic and put them in with ginger and sugar
  4. When the chili peppers get very soft, put in all the squids and all the soy sauce
  5. once the squids are cooked, serve it, and enjoy it!

According to my sommelier experience, a strong spicy food will stimulate our palette, and we can’t feel anything with white wine, but I totally changed my mind when I put these two opposite things together in my mouth. 

     Acid and fresh Sauvignon Blanc isn’t covered by sharp pungency; instead, it brings out the strong taste of spicy squids. At the beginning of the first sip, I feel high acidity in my mouth, this gives me a beautiful effervescent feeling and I can’t feel any pungency. Only 2 seconds later, the lively aromas of Sauvignon Blanc explode instantly everywhere, fresh , grassy, strong citrus fruits, especially high minerals penetrate into my tasting bud. 

     So many things come so fast that I have no time to react, as I am still trying to figure out these aromas, a strong pungency comes back again. It pushes every aroma away, except for minerality. Just because of this, it gives another kind of freshness which mixes very well with pungency, besides, the structure of mineral improves the stimulating feeling but reduces the intensity of pungency. This feeling stays in your mouth for a long time, and you can’t help having another sip. That’s the most interesting thing. 

So, about Food&Wine matching, there is no rule, especially for foreign food. If you are interested in Matching Food&Wine, make a daring attempt to do it, you might have  a pleasant surprise.

  Up next :

In our next episode we will tell you about another fantastic food matching that we did last Saturday, chinese vapored scallops with white loire, stay tuned :)