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Charles Puglia is the beverage director of the James Beard Award–winning restaurant Le Coucou in New York City, where he oversees a heavily French-influenced wine list, with more than 900 selections from great producers throughout France. Previously, Puglia was the wine director for the iconic farm-to-table restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, New York. He has been a sommelier at Jean-Georges and the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City and at Gaia restaurant in Greenwich, Connecticut; he was also the wine director at Greenwich’s Palomino restaurant. Puglia is currently a student at the Court of Master Sommeliers; he earned his advanced sommelier certificate from the court in August 2011, and is now pursuing his Master Sommelier certification. He received his advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in 2009.
Here, Puglia tastes a wine from our sponsor Loire Valley Wines. The Loire Valley is made up of five distinct wine regions—from east to west, they are Pays Nantais, Anjou, Saumur, Touraine, and the Centre-Loire. Each of these regions possesses its own characteristic grapes, appellations, and wine styles. The Loire’s offerings run the gamut from reds, rosés, and whites to still and sparkling wines, and comprise dry, semidry, and sweet wines. Known for their moderate alcohol levels, Loire wines also offer bright acidity and flinty minerality, making them ideal for pairing with an array of cuisines. Among France’s many wine-growing territories, the Loire Valley leads with its white AOC wines, including its AOC sparkling wines (excluding Champagne)—and ranks second for AOC rosés.
The Loire River is France’s longest, flowing 1,000 kilometers through the region, from Mont Gerbier de Jonc in Ardèche to the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brittany. The river and its tributaries play an important role in climate fluctuation, contributing to diverse terroir throughout the Loire Valley. Microclimates are common and highly favorable to the cultivation of various grape varieties, including Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne, as well as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Gamay. There are 57,200 hectares of vineyards along the river’s banks, with 51 appellations of origin and 4 indication géographique protégée zones—and more than 4,000 wineries. The region as a whole exports 68 million bottles every year to 157 export markets. The U.S. is the Loire’s largest export market in terms of both value and volume. In recognition of all the contributions of the region to both French and global culture, the Loire Valley—from Sully-sur-Loire to Chalonnes-sur-Loire—was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2000.
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The wine Puglia tastes in this video is from Menetou-Salon, located in the Cher department of the Centre-Loire. The appellation extends across 10 villages—Menetou-Salon, Quantilly, Aubinges, Saint-Céols, Morogues, Parassy, Soulangis, Vignoux-sous-les-Aix, Pigny, and Humbligny. Each of these villages is authorized to feature its name on the labels of the AOC wines produced within its borders. The region’s climate is temperate with a continental influence. There are nearly 600 hectares under vine, with the majority—390 hectares—planted with Sauvignon Blanc. A key component of the soil is its Kimmeridgian limestone sediment. Menetou-Salon’s annual average production over the last five years has been 26,500 hectoliters, with approximately 18,000 hectoliters of white wines, 7,500 hectoliters of reds, and 1,000 hectoliters of rosés. The region is best known for its fresh, fruity, floral, and citrusy white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noir is also cultivated in the area and yields rich, aromatic reds with ripe cherry and plum notes, as well as crisp rosés with white peach notes and hints of dried fruit.