Region: Montlouis sur Loire, France
Composition: 100% Chenin Blanc
Background: At 4 o'clock this afternoon I remembered that today is Wine Blogging Wednesday 11, and I needed to drink and write up a demi-sec/off-dry wine before midnight. Of course, I had no off-dry wines in the house aside from a way-old bottle of Moscato d'Asti that I have been abusing because I forgot it in the fridge for about three years and only noticed it shoved way in the back behind the untouchable beer we had when I cleaned out the fridge a week or so ago. I mean, knew it was there, but had forgotten quite how old it has become (let's just say it would be in elementary school right now, if it were a small child).
Anyway, I had to do some quick work and pick something up, because I have a feeling that when I open the Moscato, it isn't going to be pretty. My dirty secret (well, not so secret) is that I don't drink a lot of sweet, or even slightly sweet, wines (hence, the existence of a six-year-old Moscato in the house), so I had my work cut out for me insofar as finding one that I thought I would like.
I ended up with a bottle of François Chidaine Clos Habert, a demi-sec from the Montlouis appellation in the Loire. Montlouis is located across the river from the more well-known Vouvray, and has a similar soil composition of clay and chalky tuffeau. The wines are similar, although some say that the Montlouis wines are more rocky in nature, and this all seemed fine to me since I was originally angling for a Vouvray just because I like saying Vouvray a lot (and if that isn't a good reason to buy a wine, what is?). In fact, Montlouis was part of the Vouvray appellation until it was granted its own AC status in 1937, and the wines are also made of Chenin Blanc, the grape which produces so many fascinating wines in the Loire.
The estate makes several styles of wine from Chenin Blanc....sweet, off-dry, dry, sparkling (the same styles can be are found in Vouvray), and also makes a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes for this wine come from 60-year-old vines and are harvested by hand in up to four passes, to achieve optimal sugar levels. The wines are certified organic even though Chidaine doesn't mention that on the label.
Notes: This wine is all about honey! Clear light gold in the glass, it has a strong nose of poached peaches and syrupy pears, with a mineral streak and a little bit of honeysuckle. The floral element is more noticeable as the wine gets warmer. It hits the tongue with a thick, heady block of intense sweet fruit (more peaches and pears), and finishes with a long honeyed note that has a little gingery bite in it to keep it interesting. There is enough acidity that my gums are left tingling, and I am not finding it cloying or unpleasant. It's not within my usual drinking repertoire and I don't think it has made a demi-sec believer out of me, but it was fun to drink and is well-done and balanced. We had it with bread, roasted almonds, blackberries, Harley Farms pepper chevre, Humboldt Fog, and Mount Tam.