|A bunch of Chenin Blanc grapes|
One of the more recent additions has been the Greek Assyrtiko. The roots of this Santorini-dweller just seem to suck up something from the soils in which it grows and squirt it straight into one's wine glass (the great Rhône wine writer John Livingstone-Learmonth refers to this as STGT i.e. Soil to Glass Transfer).
And then there are those go-to classics that have been flying the flag for terroir, one feels, since time immemorial. Riesling is something of a head honcho in this department. Yet there's another variety that rivals it for transparency and ability to transfix one with its complexity: Chenin Blanc...
I remember some years ago sitting in a miniature wine bar in Hong Kong, a tiny space that specialises in natural wine. The bottle we ordered created one of those rare moments when a liquid so entrances one that one doesn't want to move or stop sipping for the remainder of the evening. That bar was La Cabane (and I suggest a visit ASAP; just ensure you arrive early); the wine was a dry Loire Chenin Blanc.
A London tasting the other day reminded me of that occasion. The reason? Once again, I had a stunningly memorable dry white wine in my glass and once again it was a Loire Chenin Blanc.
This is a new venture by an American who travelled to France to teach English, became hooked on wine, worked for one of the Loire's great winemakers (Domaine Guiberteau), before being offered a vineyard from which to make the sort of wine he likes: "elegant, pure, vertical, with salinity from the limestone".
This is his first vintage. There is very little of this wine available; clients will be restricted to a single 6-bottle case.
2015 Saumur Blanc Les Chapaudaises, Brendan Stater-West
£174 in bond per 6 Drink 2019-24
Thrilling nose, superbly defined and clear-cut. There are hints of Chenin lanolin to the glinting pear and apple fruit that's dotted with green, grassy scents and a sort of smoky minerality. The palate is utterly dry, even a touch phenolic; direct and compact (I am told that decanting this allows it to open up considerably). At the core, I find earthy, mineral, lightly saline acidity that's really firm and juicy. And it closes with arresting fullness and density. Fabulous. A "wow" moment. And an extraordinary first vintage.
Email caspar[at]boweswine.co.uk to order