Sips: From the Loire Valley, rolling the dice and winning with Domaine de la Chaise’s Touraine

Among the joys in this line of work are the elements of surprise and discovery – taking chances on new wines and seeing what they bring. Sometimes, of course, there is disappointment, as with a simple ‘09 Beaujolais I bought last night. It was imported by a company I respect, which is often a first line of defense when it comes to quality. Alas, the wine was dull and uninspired. Didn’t the folks in the wine shop taste it before buying it? Unfortunately, there are stores whose owners don’t even bother.

But I’m happy to report that I had a far different experience recently with another wine from another store on which I rolled the dice. I often like to begin the evening with a crisp white as I cook dinner and unwind. There were several Loire Valley sauvignon blancs in the cooler – a Sancerre priced in the high $20s, a Quincy in the high teens, and then a Touraine offered at $14. Touraine, you’ll recall, is a very large area and broad appellation in the Loire where both sauvignon and chenin blanc are grown, along with a variety of red grapes.

It turned out that Domaine de la Chaise’s 2010 Touraine is as good a sauvignon as you’ll find at this price from the Loire Valley or elsewhere. Its elegance and superb fruit come across in the first sip with tastes of pear, lime and orange, a little vanilla and subtle herb, spice and mineral notes. Its overall complexity and signature Loire style make the wine a superb value and a top contender for fish and shellfish, simple chicken dishes and as a pleasing aperitif. It would do well in a blind tasting with more famous and expensive Loire sauvignons. A typical case discount will make it even more of a bargain. Imported by Gabriella Importers, Bohemia, New York.

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