My sense is that the winemakers of Saumur in the Loire Valley are probably still paying top dollar for the French version of the Yellow Pages because, Chenin Blanc, the native variety of Saumur, makes some of the best white wines in the world yet it flies very far under the radar of most consumers.
When I was at Jean Georges, the sommelier team needed to sell expensive white Burgs but when friends and family came in, they got special recommendations….with a wink and a nod from the chief sommelier, customers with connections to the staff were suggested special wines….wines that complemented Jean-Georges’ cuisine just as well as those Saturday night Burgundies and Bordeaux but over delivered in complexity and versatility at a Tuesday night price.
More often than not, the wines in Jean-Georges’s secret stash were Loire Valley Chenin Blancs from places like Saumur. The great ones – like this one from Villeneuve – are aromatically complex and deeply fruity with vibrant, mineral finishes. The 2020 Château de Villeneuve Saumur Blanc is the perfect example of what I mean. Aromas of ripe apple and melon mingled with ginger and honeysuckle elegantly lift from the glass, leading to a concentrated core of peach and apricot flavors. The finish is forever, super crisp and mineral with a dash of spice.
A ridiculously good, chalky Chenin Blanc at a price point that can’t be beat.
Vegetable dishes or salads or a good, old-fashioned cream based dish.