WHY: If you're a fan of the snappy, wild sauvignon blanc flavor, but like the clean and mineral-driven style of the Loire Valley, this is the wine for you. Much more assertive than your average Sancerre, the wine is alive on the nose with hints of bell pepper and citrus, and electric on the palate with drive and freshness on the finish. For less than $20, there's not a sauvignon blanc in the store as good as this.
HOW: This comes from vines averaging 20 years old growing in the communes of Couffy, Seigy and Chateauvieux just south of the Cher River, a major tributary of the Loire. The Loire Valley is an open window to the Atlantic, blessing the region with clement weather. L’Aumonier’s soils range from tufa hillsides rich in clay and limestone to flatter sites of flint and clay, sand and clay, and silt and clay. Ferments are typically spontaneous (the occasional difficult tank may get a dose of neutral yeast) and the wine is raised in tank. Production averages 8,500 cases.
WHAT: Sophie and Thierry Chardon founded Domaine de L’Aumonier in 1996 in the far eastern reaches of the Touraine appellation. Thierry’s parents were growers in the region, but Thierry had gone to Paris to fulfill a childhood dream of becoming a firefighter. Toward the end of his five-year employment contract he met Sophie, then a student, and she (or his infatuation with her) persuaded him to leave Paris and firefighting. He returned to Mareuil-sur-Cher to discover that the man who had bought his parents’ vines needed a vineyard manager. Thierry proposed himself, and his father stepped up to train him. Six years later, the young couple inherited seven acres of vines from Sophie’s grandfather.