This is pretty simple: if there is a wine geek in your life, and they do not already know about Master the World™ you now have the perfect gift to get them this year. A couple of months ago, I took part in seven tastings with the great people at Master the World™ and I can’t express enough how valuable the experience was. I learned so much about wine in general, the regions explored, the individual wines and wineries included.
The concept is really brilliant, in my opinion, as the fine folks at Master the World™ take wines from around the world and, after verifying that the wines are not flawed in any way, transfer the wines into smaller, 187ml bottles which they then group six bottles together under a common theme. It might be a region, a variety, a producer, you name it, Evan Goldstein (Master Sommelier) and Limeng Stroh (Co-founder and CEO) have found myriad ways to link wines to make very compelling tasting kits.
On top of all of that, the wines arrive blind–their identities are hidden so you can taste the wines without any preconceived notions or bias. “But wait, there’s more.” Master the World™ also provides both a video where industry leaders, including several Master Sommeliers, discuss the wines and an online evaluation tool that walks you through the entire process.
It really is rather remarkable, incredibly educational, and a ton of fun (as long as you don’t mind being humbled). Individual kits cost $90 and include shipping, and the cost goes down if you agree to buy multiple kits.
This tasting kit (236C for those keeping track at home) focused on one of my favorite (and largely still under-appreciated in this country) regions: the Loire Valley. This kit only contained white wines, which when it comes to the Loire means Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc (yes, there are a few other players, but these are by far the most widely planted).
As is the case in most of France, it is not up to the individual farmer to decide what he or she plants, but rather up to the region where the vineyard is located. That can make it tough on the consumer since the grape variety is rarely listed on the label. One simply has to know that, for example, “Touraine” is a Sauvignon and “Vouvray” is a Chenin.
No, the French don’t care all that much about clarity and yes, I think that they enjoy the fact that many Americans find it maddening.
22020 Paul Buisse Touraine, Loire Valley, France: Retail $20. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. A star-bright light straw with green accents in the glass and aromas of citrus (pink grapefruit, lemon), green apple, and white peach, along with some hazelnut and pistachio. The palate is dry, lean, and tart with above-average acidity and a lengthy finish. A lovely wine from what I think is an often overlooked region. Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Domaine Jean Teiller Menetou-Salon Blanc, Loire Valley, France: Retail $23. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Another appellation in the Loire Valley that is relatively unknown in the U.S., but produces some Sauvignon that comes close to rivaling its much more widely known neighbors, Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. Bright medium straw with loads of citrus on the nose, along with some green pear and white nectarine and peach. Quite mineral, even chalky, on the palate with a zingy tartness and ample fruit, this wine shows a bit of depth on the mid-palate and some complexity all the way through the lengthy finish. Very Nice. Excellent. 90 Points.
2019 Domaine Mardon Quincy Très Vieilles Vignes, Loire Valley, France: Retail $22. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. I have to give it to the folks at Master the World, they are able to get some really interesting wines from places that most people in this country have never heard of. Case in point. I can’t ever remember seeing a Quincy on the shelves here in the U.S. (but honestly, I have never really gone looking for one, either). Along with Menetou-Salon, this tiny appellation produces some solid Sauvignon, usually at around half the price of its bigger sibling, Sancerre. A lovely nose of grapefruit and mango with some green apple and Asian pear, this really is a delight. The palate is singing with a lovely tartness and a mineral salinity which both help to accentuate the bountiful fruit. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 Domaine Fabien Duveau Saumur St.-Cyr La Hunaudière, Loire Valley, France: Retail $25. 100% Chenin Blanc. Saumur and Vouvray (at least in my mind) compete for the region that produces the best Chenin Blanc in the world. This wine, from the village of Saint-Cyr, is initially a bit closed, with only a minimal amount of fruit coming through. After warming a bit, it improved with tons of pear and lemon, predominantly, along with floral (apple blossom) and herbal (bay leaf) components. Quite tart (particularly for a Chenin) with good fruit, depth, and complexity. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 Domaine des Baumard Savennières, Loire Valley, France: Retail $40. 100% Chenin Blanc. Perhaps the most widely recognizable Savennières, Domaine des Baumard consistently makes some of the best wines from this famed region. Dry and intense, with a multitude of fruit aromas and flavors (citrus, tree, stone, and exotic fruit all represented), this wine is just a baby. I feel that Savennières does not really start hitting its stride until at least 5-8 years past the vintage, so this needs some time. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Domaine de Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Cuvée Silex, Loire Valley, France: Retail $24. 100% Chenin Blanc. For me, Vouvray produces the best Chenin Blanc in the world, producing many wines that can be aged for decades (I have one from 1971 that might be ready to drink now). This wine has plenty of fruit (citrus and Asian pear), a nice level of acidity (although I’d like it a tad higher), and an above-average acidity, but it is just lacking a bit of the complexity that I expect from Vouvray. Still, Very Good. 89 Points.