Country of Origin: France
People: Jean-Francois Merieau, Owner & Winemaker
The quality of Jean-Francois Merieau's wines stands head and shoulders above any Touraine Sauvignon Blanc anyone in the collective wisdom of Cream and beyond have ever tasted. While Touraine is a large region including the appellations of Vouvray, Montlouis, Chinon and many others, it is also an appellation in itself, planted mostly to Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, and Malbec. Most Touraine is mass-produced, harvested by machine, and of little interest. One of the new stars in the Loire, Jean-Francois Merieau breaks the mold and is one of the few artisans to really champion this AOC. He believes his organic approach and patience with his wines will help to put these wines on the same level as more prestigious appellations. Instead of blending his wines, he produces most of the varietals with which he works in single varietal bottlings, often from a single parcel. To judge by his rich, leesy and varietally expressive Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, he has already achieved this. His sparkling wine, produced from Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc, is aged like Champagne, sur lie (on its yeast).
There are about 5,000 hectares of Malbec planted in France, with the majority of it in the southwest divided principally between the Cahors region and Bordeaux. This number is greatly reduced from plantings even some 50 years ago due mainly to its reduction in use in Bordeaux where it has traditionally been used as a blending grape. Malbec was introduced to Argentina around 1868 by a French agricultural engineer named Michel Pouget where it has achieved startling success. At one point, there were 50,000 acres of Malbec planted in the country due mainly to the fact that Malbec grown in Argentina produces wines of great lushness of fruit without the heavy tannic character of those of southern France. Its popularity continues today (even though the acres planted is now roughly half) and clearly some of the best examples of the varietal in the world are produced in Argentina, even if they differ stylistically from those grown in France. Long grown in the Loire, Malbec (or Cot, as it is called in the Loire Valley) historically had been bottled as a single varietal but in the last 20 years, this has changed. Most of the regions using it now are located in the eastern half of the valley and winemakers usually blend malbec with cabernet Franc and other traditional Loire varietals (such as in Valencay).
However, the Touraine region is one area that has defended Cot as worthy of being bottled as a single varietal, like in Cahors. The main difference between the Cot of the Touraine and the Malbec in Cahors is that the northern plantings tend to produce wines with softer tannins, lower levels of alcohol, and make wines with the hallmark dark fruit flavors but with high acidity and cut.
You Tube Links
Jean-Francois Merieau - In the Vines
Jean-Francois Merieau - Hidden Treasure and the Old Cave
Jean-Francois Merieau - Limestone for the Rich and the Poor