Though Loire Valley reds have never been better, it’s still surely true that the region is best known for its white wines, the vast majority of which are made either with Sauvignon or Chenin Blanc. Just about all wine drinkers know Sancerre and Vouvray. And for good reason. This cool, relatively flat region puts out some of the best mineral driven, refreshing whites anywhere. In forgotten corners, though, there are obscure and charming native varieties that are holding on for dear life amidst this sea of Chenin and Sauvignon. The best example is perhaps the appellation of Cour Cheverny. If you’ve had white Cheverny, you know this large appellation is the source of some of the best value Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire, cut from the same cloth as Sancerre. However within this large appellation is Cour Cheverny, where the ancient Romorantin must be grown. Formerly a popular grape throughout the region, Cour Cheverny is the last bastion for Romorantin, with only about 60 hectares planted to this variety.
François Cazin is one of the few winemakers who persists in making a Cour Cheverny and his approach to winemaking is resolutely old-school. He has been bottling his whites without filtration of any kind–a relatively risky proposition for white wines in particular–for decades. Like all Loire whites, Romorantin is known for producing wines of high acidity and minerality. Still, it’s more difficult to rear correct than Chenin or Sauvignon, and in the wrong hands Romorantin can be sharp and austere. Made well, however, and it can be truly transcendent, like a union of great Chenin and Muscadet, for example. François’ version is aged first in old barrels before being moved, by gravity only, to stainless steel. It is gloriously fresh and elegant, offering up a truly novel tasting experience. Enjoy with shellfish or goat cheese.