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The Caves des Grands Crus Blancs has turned out another fine, eminently drinkable St. Véran in 2008. This winery is consistently one of the top performers in southern Burgundy year in and year out, in spite of the vagaries of weather that so often plague the region. As expected, the 2008 Cave des Grands Crus Blancs St. Véran offers real up-front appeal. For starters, the wine’s bright sunshine imbued robe and pronounced bouquet of soft scents immediately begin working their magic: white fruits, citrus, minerals, and butter all come to fore to beguile the nose. And in the mouth, the wine’s great tactile feel and soft texture caress the palate with hints of acacia, apple, pear, mineral, and more. Moreover, the 2008 Cave des Grands Crus Blancs St. Véran is not to be outdone on the finish. It exits respectfully with a crisp, refreshing afterglow. A finely balanced wine from the world’s favorite white grape, the 2008 Cave des Grands Crus Blancs Saint Véran shines most intently when consumed only moderately chilled (40º-45º F). Enjoy!
The 2008 Cave des Grands Crus Blancs St. Véran provides a splendid complement to almost any table. For starters, it makes for a great aperitif. It also showcases an array of tasty appetizers, including Crispy Crab Rangoons, Maryland Style Crab Cakes, Shrimp or Vegetable Rolls, and Fish Tacos. In addition, Sautéed Oysters, served with an anise sauce, baby spinach, prosciutto, and cashew vinaigrette in the company of the 2008 Cave des Grands Crus Blancs St. Véran makes for a superb start to a special evening. Sautéed Scallops are another perennial favorite. In addition, salads and almost any chicken dish prepared in a cream sauce will highlight this wine, too. Light to medium flavored cheeses like Brick, Colby, and Edam in the company of a loaf of crispy French bread provide plenty of companionship too. Bon appétit!
The Cave des Grands Crus Blancs is one of the top wine cooperatives in France. Begun in 1929 as a union of small growers from the tiny Maconnais hamlets of Vinzelles and Loché, the Cave des Grands Crus Blancs has expanded over the years to represent growers in all the renowned appellations of southern Burgundy, including St. Véran, Pouilly-Fuissé, and Beaujolais. Its specialty, however, remains pure, un-adulterated Chardonnay from the Maconnais.
Although the International Wine of the Month Club rarely features wines by cooperatives or even negociants, the quality of the Burgundy wines that flow from the Cave des Grands Crus Blancs is not only on par with the quality we see from private estates in the Maconnais, it is often better. In the case of this winery’s St. Véran, we found it once again to be a cut above the competition and even more compelling than many Pouilly-Fuissé – further evidence to support the adage one cannot drink a label or a price tag, only the wine in the bottle.
St. Véran is one of the two finest appellations in the Maconnais region of southern Burgundy; Pouilly-Fuissé is the other. St. Véran takes its name from the Macon village of Saint-Vérand, but like most wine appellations in France St. Véran encompasses a number of tiny nearby hamlets in addition to its namesake, all of which sit upon the limestone rich soil of an ancient sea bed, adjacent to Pouilly-Fuissé. Granted appellation status in 1971, St. Véran presently covers approximately 625 acres, devoted entirely to Chardonnay. Consequently, only white wine ever flows from the renowned appellation of St. Véran.
Although quite similar in style to Pouilly-Fuissé, the wines of St. Véran typically exhibit a bit more flesh and fruit, and there is often added warmth to St. Véran that one rarely sees in Pouilly-Fuissé – reminder that in this area of the Maconnais one has left northern France and is offered a first glimpse of the south or Midi. And whereby Pouilly-Fuissé has built its reputation on supreme elegance and an ethereal quality that the French would describe as the preponderance of a certain Je ne sais quoi, St. Véran wins admirers with a slightly rounder, more textured feel. Perhaps, the best way to understand these two wines is to equate them with two sides of the same coin. Moreover, neither St. Véran, nor Pouilly-Fuissé traditionally sees much oak barrel ageing, which serves to preserve the delicacy, roundness and eminent drinkability that one has come to expect from the Macon’s two crown jewels.
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