It’s about time I shared this little gem from our region of the Loire Valley, France.
Xavier and Isabelle Frissant have been winemakers for 30 years, but their ancestors even served wine for the King Francis I in the 1530’s! That tells you how committed this family is to wine. They own 22 hectares (roughly 50 acres) of land near Amboise in the Touraine region, and their son Thomas now owns 14 hectares, he who made his first wine this year!
Loire Valley is quite straightforward in its approach with white wine: Muscadet is planted near Nantes on granite soil, Chenin Blanc is grown west of the town of Amboise, which represents a climatic limit between Continental and Maritime climates. The eastern Loire focuses on Sauvignon Blanc, because this grape variety buds late (avoiding frost in Spring) and ripening early (avoiding cooler temperatures in Autumn). After phylloxera (an insect who sucks the sap out of European vines) struck in the 1870s, only mainstream grape varieties were replanted, and French diversity of grapes took a drastic hit; since 1936 and the rise of “appellations”, winemakers have also been limited in their choice of grape varieities if they want to be able to label their wines “Vouvray”, “Sancerre” or another famous appellation they can attach their wines to.
The Frissant family has many interesting wines in their portfolio, but if I had to pick one favourite, I would certainly go for their rare grape variety: Fié Gris A.K.A Sauvignon Rose (a cousin of Sauvignon Blanc, rose because of the color of its skin).
Les Roses du Clos is a cuvée with a low yield (35hl/ha), fermenting and ageing (on the lees) in old oak barrels for less than 6 months to keep the smooth floral texture of this delicious grape variety.
All in all, great finesse, refreshing acidity, green apples and white flowers dominate on this superb wine which you can drink for aperitif, but also pair with shellfish, Asian cuisine, roasted white meats. Keep this wine no longer than 4 years, serve at 12 degrees celsius.
Price: 10 euros per bottle ex-cellar!
They also produce a second cuvée of Fié Gris: La Griffe d’Isa 2017. Upon harvest, they pick 7 out of 8 bunches of grapes per vine (to make the Roses du Clos), leaving 1 bunch purposely on the vines to come pick 10 days later. This gives extra maturity and concentration to the grapes of this second and “better” wine. It gives more complexity and extra texture to the wine, which you can keep up to 7 years, and pair with fish in sauces. 18 euros for that bottle ex-cellar.