Growing up, one of my favorite things to read was the comic book series Asterix, named for the main character who was the bane of the Romans in occupied Gaul (current day France). Along with his sidekick Obelix, and dog, Dogmatix, and with a little help from the magic potion brewed by Getafix, Asterix reduced the conquering Roman army to quivering wrecks in a series of adventures that kept me spellbound. They even had a wine merchant called Alcohlix but I think if I am going to take on a Gaulish name it would be Vinofix. (The ‘ix’ is actually a derivation of rex or ‘ruler’ from Roman times.)
This week's wines are both from Asterix land. In fact, both are from the Loire, an area of France where we are seeing so many superb wines these days as a new generation of winemakers are returning to organic/biodynamic methods and taking meticulous care in the vineyards. This region is also getting warmer with climate change, and where once it was a struggle to get grapes fully ripe, now there are so many perfect growing seasons.
This is another wonderful Muscadet from Jo Landron, the fantastic winemaker behind the Amphibolite and Fief du Breil we love. As it happens, Jo is also an Asterix lover, and his wine Melonix is a nod to the beloved comic series. Muscadet is made from Melon de Bourgogne, a regional grape closely related to Chardonnay. Made without the addition of Sulphur (used by a lot of winemakers to preserve freshness and protect from unwanted bacteria and yeast), Landron calls his Melonix a “Vin de France” as he feels that the natural winemaking techniques allow it to fully express itself. It is wonderfully fruity and refreshing with lovely ripe honeydew melon, candied citrus flavors, and soft minerals from the clay and sandy soils. This is a really enjoyable bottle of wine. Drink with simple seared scallops or grilled shrimp on a mixed green salad with a dollop of mango salsa to compliment the delicate fruit flavours of the wine.
Our next wine is a Chardonnay, unusual in the Loire, from a lovely man and wife team at Domaine de Noiré. They specialize in Chinon reds, but make a few whites, and this one is just delicious.
Bright and crisp with a steely minerality and the kind of acids that make your mouth water. You will find this wine really really opens up in the glass to reveal notes of lemon, lime zest, ripe cantaloupe melon and fresh herbs. Just a delightful, great-value white you can drink all summer long. With its lovely backbone, this will cut through a creamy Moules a la Normande -- mussels in a cider and blue cheese broth. I love serving this family style in a huge pot in the middle of the table, and let everyone dunk their baguette in to soak up the sauce. Eating tip: after eating your first mussels, the hinged shells make super pincers for removing the rest of the mussels from the shells 😊.