by Fred McMillin
for November 11, 1998
On the Loire, It's St. Martin's Feast Day
St. Martin is regarded as the patron saint of
wine-growers on the Loire. In medieval times
the wine-growing abbey Saint-Martin-de-Tours
employed 20,000 people. The Chenin Blanc, that
makes the wines of Vouvray is said to have been
originated with St. Martin. Also, legend says
he discovered the benefits of pruning vines
to improve wine quality. In any case, in the
Middle Ages his feast day—Martinmas—was
appropriately celebrated by payment of tithes
in barrels of wine.
...from A History of Food by M. Toussaint-Samat
A tasting of 18 Vouvray vintages by the famous
house of Marc Bredif demonstrated their striking
...from The Vintner's Art by Johnson & Halliday
The Rest of the Story
So, for your toast to Europe's first great winemaking
monk, nothing could be more suitable than a Bredif
Vouvray. Fortunately, you don't have to visit
France to obtain it. Maison Marques & Domaines
imports the wine.
1996 Vouvray, Loire Valley
By Marc Bredif
Composition—100% Chenin Blanc
Winemaking—"In the great cellars of the Loire
Valley, winemaking is exceedingly simple...no
oak...a limited degree of lees-contact...an
assortment of stainless steel and ancient wooden
vessels for fermentation. The magic lies in
the climate and the soil." (J. & H.)
Tasting Notes—Vouvray is noted for its crisp
acids, in this case balanced by a touch of
residual sugar. The New York Times' Frank
Prial rates Loire Chenins far above those of
California, "which, with few exceptions, are
semisweet and undistinguished."
Contact—Michelle Armour, Oakland, CA, (510) 286-2000
Price -$16 range
Food—For your St. Martin's mini-feast, I turn
to the Parisian "Prince of Gastronomes,"
Curnonsky, who was born on the Loire over a
century ago. The recipe for his boned Duckling Saint-Matin
starts with a 24-hour marinade that
includes what else?...1/4 cup of Vouvray.
Who planted the first vineyard in Vouvray? Piece
of cake. It was St. Martin.
||About the Writer
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history
for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine
courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College.
In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored
Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded
to American wine writers.
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