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WINE OF THE WEEK: Château Favray Mathilde de Favray Pouilly Fumé 2022, Loire, France

£19, Ocado, Marks & Spencer

The 2022 vintage was a cracking year for Pouilly Fumé, Sancerre and the other wines of the Centre-Loire. It may even be the best for 30 years, giving fantastic quality and good volumes, according to François Dal of the regional authority’s technical arm SICAVAC.

Here in the UK we're Pouilly Fumé's number one overseas customer, whereas we're a long way behind the US when it comes to Sancerre. But because Sancerre has much more vineyard than Pouilly Fumé (they're on the Loire's left and right bank, respectively), we drink more than twice as much Sancerre.

I wouldn’t like to have to say in a blind tasting which wine was definitively a Pouilly Fumé and which a Sancerre but, if put on the spot and one wine seemed to have a more smoky flavour and was slightly less nervy and more broader-shouldered, I would say it was the Pouilly Fumé.

In the case of Mathilde de Favray 2022, there is a mouthwatering smokiness, almost like grilled smoked-bacon fat, that drives through the racy, ripe, lime and greengage fruit and river-borne freshness.

The grape variety is Sauvignon Blanc, of course, but the distinctive flavour of the Centre-Loire’s dry whites is so much more about the exact place from which they come – just as Chablis is made from Chardonnay, but speaks much more loudly about its soils and climate than its grape variety.

Sometimes the smoky gunflint character in Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre seems to coincide with the areas of clayey-flint soils – silex – but the fruit for this wine comes from vines on the chalky limestone slopes of Favray, the isolated, easternmost lieu dit (named location) of Pouilly Fumé.

The family-owned and run Château Favray, the only estate there, has 18ha of vines on hillsides skirted by the narrow Nohain river. Quentin David first planted vines in 1981 and today works with his son Augustin. This wine is from vines that have an average age of 25 years and it's aged on lees for 6 to 12 months to give texture and volume.

Mathilde de Favray can be drunk as an apéro but is also a wine to have with seafood, including scallops, prawns and crab, or with salmon. It has weight enough for buttery sauces, including hollandaise – useful when the it’s the season for green asparagus, and also goes with red peppers, beetroot and cooked cheese dishes. 13.5%. Empty bottle weight: 556g.

Château Favray Mathilde de Favray Pouilly Fumé 2022, Loire, France

£19, Marks & Spencers stores and Ocado


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