Montlouis-sur-Loire – 2 Rivers, 3 Zeros and some delicious sparkling wine #Winophiles

Triple Zero from Domaine de la Taille aux Loups in Montlouis-sur-Loire with a cheese souffle and salad

Montlouis-sur-Loire – 2 Rivers, 3 Zeros and some delicious sparkling wine #Winophiles

Montlouis-sur-Loire sits in the middle of the Loire Valley. The Loire Valley is a region in France, that stretches 600 miles along the Loire River.  It is divided into 4 basic regions, The Pay Nantais which sits closest to the Atlantic Ocean, Anjou-Saumur, considered the Central Loire, Touraine which is east of Anjou-Saumur and the Upper Loire, which is the furthest east.

Loire Valley Wines Map (courtesy Loire Valley Wines)
Loire Valley Wines Map (courtesy Loire Valley Wines)

Over this immense distance is should be unsurprising that you find a wide variety of wines as you move from the ocean through the lush green valley and then curve around to head south into the foothills of the Massif Central, where the summers are hot and the winters very cold. 

The area is in the north of France sitting near the 47th parallel.  The city of Nantes, where the name Pays Nantais comes from has Seattle Washington as it’s sister city.  Seattle is also on the 47th Parallel, to give you a bit of perspective on its northerliness.  This is why the vineyards follow the river.  The rive moderates the climate, keeping the areas nearby cooler in summer and warmer in winter than areas further away.

This vast region is where you will find the French #Winophiles virtually traveling this month.  Jill Barth leads us from L’Occasion. She wrote a wonderful invitation piece on the region that you can read here. Scroll to the bottom of this post to find the other wonderful pieces on this region written by my colleagues in the French #Winophiles.

Touraine – The Garden of France

As I searched for a wine in this expansive and diverse region, I did my usual check at Garagiste, my favorite wine shop. They had quite a selection of Loire Valley wines.  One caught my eye and it happened to be from Touraine.

This region has been called the “Garden of France”.  The chateaux along the river here attest to the fact that it was a favorite idealic spot for kings and nobleman.

Montlouis-sur-Loire sitting between 2 Rivers

Within the Touraine, our wine comes from Montlouis-sur-Loire which sits between the Loire and Cher rivers.  It tends to be overshadowed by its famous cousin across the Loire to the north, Vouvray. If you look at the map above, it is the area in orange just below Tours.

Here, as in Vouvray, the primary grape is Chenin Blanc often known locally as Pineau de Loire.  A significant portion (around 1/3) of the Chenin Blanc here is used to make sparkling wines. 

Sparkling Chenin Blanc and Vins Mousseaux a Fermentation Unique

Chenin Blanc has been used for Fine Bulles (sparkling wine) in the Loire Valley and Montlouis-sur-Loire for quite a while, but the regulations did not allow for wine made in the method ancestral. This is the method used to create Pet-nats, the Petillant Naturel wines that have become very popular recently. The idea is to bottle the wines before all the sugar has been fermented into alcohol, which causes carbon dioxide to be trapped in the bottle, giving us that fizz.

In June, 2020 the Montlouis-sur-Loire AOC updated their regulations to include “Vins Mousseaux a Fermentation Unique”  (source) While these wines have been described as pét-nat, you will notice a difference if you are familiar with pét-nats.  These wines, according to the rules of the Montlouis-sur-Loire AOC must be disgorged, so you will see no settled lees in the bottom of your bottle.

Our wine, which has been made in this method since the early 1990s, is now included in the Montlouis-sur-Loire AOC.

Domaine de la Taille aux Loups & Jacky Blot

Jacky Blot created Domaine de la Taille aux Loups in Montlouis-sur-Loire, in 1989.  He tends to be meticulous and precise which has earned him the name “The watchman of Montlouis”. He is a fascinating individual. Skurnik Wines and Spirits, imports his wines and shared this wonderful video on their site that is well worth a watch. 

Triple Zero

Our wine is called Triple Zero. What does the name mean?  It means: Zero chapitalization, Zero liqueur de tirage, and Zero dosage. Jacky Blot named this wine after spending 10 years labeling it “sparkling, natural, without sugar”. It’s kind of hard to market that on a label. Soon others started to make wines in this style. Some were good, some not so much. So to set his wine apart he registered the trademark Triple Zero in 2002.

Domaine de la Taille can make this Triple zero because Chenin blanc on this chalky soil in this climate can ripen enough to not need the addition of sugar and at the same time keep the freshness.  They continue to refine this winemaking changes each vintage to make the wine better. Of course, they can’t see how that worked out for several years, when the wine is ready to drink.

The wine is 100% Chenin Blanc from 40+-year-old vines that are farmed organically.  It is fermented and aged in 5-10 year oak barrels (so neutral), does not go through malolactic fermentation and is aged on the lees for 24 months. It is 12.5% abv and I picked it up for $45.

Tasting the Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Triple Zero

This poured sparkling with bubbles that settled after a bit. It is pale lemon in color and clear (remember it has been disgorged). On the nose, I found white peach, biscuit, lime zest, and pear with subtle floral notes. Medium in body it had pronounce flavors of citrus, tart yellow apple, sourdough, and almond.

Sparkling Chenin and Cheese souffle

In looking for a pairing, I settled on a souffle.  It’s warm out and the idea of “brunch for dinner” was appealing.  It seemed so elegant and bright and perfect to go with a sparkling wine.  I adapted a recipe to fit the ramekins I had. I substituted bacon for the mushrooms in her recipe, because I love my husband and he does not love mushrooms.

First unsuccessful attempt at a soufflé.

Sadly, it failed spectacularly. Some of this was my fault. Souffles are intimidating and I was a bit nervous. My roux was tight, I forgot to add the cheese, and I had the oven on convection bake. We ate them anyway and they were delicious, if not beautiful.

I had more ingredients so we decided to make a second attempt.

I did some extra research and found my recipe was also a little off, my bechamel proportions had been wrong. The thing to remember is equal amounts of butter and flour. My first recipe had less butter than flour and had me cooking it 3 minutes, this left me with a dry crumbly roux which is not at all what you want. In addition, my first recipe had me adding less milk, which meant the whole mixture seized up.

Second time around, more butter and milk, less cooking, and a smoother bechamel. I added my egg yolks to this then the grated gruyere, a mixture of crisped bacon and shallots and chopped sage. Now it was time to whip the egg whites into those firm peaks. A dollop of the whipped egg whites goes into the bechamel etc mixture to loosen it, then you take that and gently put it in the bowl with the egg whites. Now it is time to gently fold this together, so you don’t lose the air! This is what makes your souffle rise. The air pockets expand in the oven making your souffle tall, light, and fluffy.

Toss the mixture in your buttered and parmesan dusted ramekin(s) and bake, just not on Convection bake! I set mine at 375 degrees and baked for about 18 minutes. When they come out eat them immediately! I had Michael prep everything so we could quickly pour the wine and catch the bubbles in the wine with the soufflé. Within 5 minutes, your soufflé will collapse.

We added a simple arugula, almond and white peach salad on the side.

Taille aux Loups Triple Zero from Montlouis-sur-Loire and cheese soufflé
Taille aux Loups Triple Zero from Montlouis-sur-Loire and cheese soufflé

All over the Loire with the French #Winophiles

As I mentioned earlier, the French #Winophiles are gathering on Saturday August 15th to discuss wines from across the Loire Vallley.  If you would like to join the conversation, find us at 8 am Pacific time or 11 am Eastern time on twitter by following the hashtage #Winophiles.

While I focused just on Montlouis-sur-Loire AOC and one specific wine, the rest of the Winophiles have traveled the entire span of the Loire Valley and will have some amazing regions and wines of the Loire to share.

More on the Loire Valley and its wines

As always be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date on all of our posts.

Robin Renken CSW (photo credit RuBen Permel)

Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.

When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.

pinit fg en rect red 28

Robin Renken
[email protected]
  • Andrea Lemieux
    Posted at 07:50h, 15 August Reply

    Hahaha, your first souffle attempt sounds much like the experience I had making my souffles! Glad your second attempt worked out because both the wine and souffle sound delicious!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 14:22h, 15 August

      Thank you, Andrea! It’s good to know I’m not alone first attempt souffle disasters. And yes, the wine and souffle were delicious!

  • advinetures
    Posted at 00:23h, 16 August Reply

    We love Chenin Blanc and this sounds interesting…at $45US would you recommend? As for the souffle, for the first attempt you get massive marks just for attempting…and then of course you mastered it. Nice work Robin!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 15:14h, 16 August

      I would recommend this wine. A reminder that this is 100% Chenin Blanc which does impact the flavor in a big way. After my first failed attempt I found a really funny video on how to make cheese souffle that gave me the tips I needed and cheered me up,making the second attempt a much more pleasant event.

  • Lynn
    Posted at 13:54h, 16 August Reply

    Mark and I are big fans of Jacky Blot wines… and souffle. Always a challenge but when they rise and turn out I always dance around the kitchen. Haven’t had a Montlouis-sur-Loire since the rule change, they probably danced around the vineyard!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 15:18h, 16 August

      I spent time researching the change and the wine, and still don’t know if I have completely wrapped my head around it. (Reading these documents which are written so formally and then translating them from French, OY!) But I did enjoy the wine and loved watching the interview with Jacky.
      As to the souffle…I will try again at some point and this time photo them before they come out of the oven! They started to sink so quickly, perhaps due to the dryness in the air. I was excited, but didn’t dance (I was tiptoeing to be sure they didn’t fall!)

  • Linda Whipple, CSW
    Posted at 09:34h, 17 August Reply

    So impressed by your persistence – I will remember that the next time I have a cooking failure! After tasting a Vouvray pet nat for this chat, I was super intrigued by disgorged pet nat from across the river. A different take on this style, for sure!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 10:05h, 19 August

      I love that we both chose sparkling wines for this month! And, had we discussed that you had the Zweigelt pet-nat? I do love that wine.

  • Nicole Ruiz Hudson
    Posted at 17:47h, 17 August Reply

    I LOVE Jacky Blot’s wines. I always make sure to stop and taste through his line up at Skurnik’s tasting events (back when we could to those) and have recently gifted a couple of bottles to friends. I can also completely empathize with the souffle tribulations. Not too long ago I also wrote a post about a failed attmept — but I am feeling inspired to try again.

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 13:11h, 18 August

      I was so deflated (pun intended) after my first attempt. But I found a great video on making cheese souffle Alex is so funny and has some great tips and gave me the strength to try again! Not that I followed all of his tips (I wasn’t turning mine out so I was not doing the 3 step buttering process). Give it a watch, if nothing else, it will make you laugh!

  • theswirlingdervish
    Posted at 11:54h, 18 August Reply

    That souffle looks pretty delicious to me! And talk about a perfect match for the Triple 0 sparkler. Yum! Need to check out this producer and try the wines for myself. Cheers Robin!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 13:12h, 18 August

      It was my first time discovering Jacky Blot’s wines and I certainly enjoyed this one. It’s worth looking into Lauren!

  • Pingback:Wine Thirsty? That’s No Problem in France’s Loire Valley – L'OCCASION
    Posted at 09:46h, 20 August Reply

    […] Montlouis-sur-Loire – 2 Rivers, 3 Zeros and some delicious sparkling wine | Crushed Grape Chronicles […]

  • Pinny Tam
    Posted at 11:43h, 21 August Reply

    Love you have a cheese souffle to park with the sparkling chenin. I like the side arugula salad too.

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 07:23h, 22 August

      Got to have that kick of peppery flavor in there with the arugula! It was nice to see you virtually the other day at WMC!

  • Martin D. Redmond
    Posted at 06:14h, 22 August Reply

    Thanks for the introduction to Triple Zero. It sounds like a great bottle of bubbly! I followed you souffle adventure on IG. I had no doubt you’d succeed! It looks great and I love the paring!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 07:22h, 22 August

      Thanks Martin! The Triple Zero was delicious and while I am not an expert on souffle by any means, at least I have an understanding of them now and they no longer intimidate me.

  • Payal Vora
    Posted at 00:37h, 31 August Reply

    The wine sounds absolutely lovely and perfect with the soufflé and summer salad! I made my first soufflé when I was 14 or 15 and it was flatter than a hammered pancake. Luckily I made it when my parents were at a dinner party and the oven and I were the only ones who knew!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 06:52h, 31 August

      Thank you, Payal! You started young with your souffle education! At least it’s good to know that first attempts often don’t turn out as planned.
      On a separate note, my apologies for not approving your response right away. We require administrator approval of post on our site and I was asleep when you posted!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: