France’s Loire Valley is like a treasure map – beginning on the Atlantic coast near Nantes and meandering east to the hills of Auvergne in the heart of France. Because of its noteworthy architectural heritage in its historic towns, outstanding cultural landscape along the Loire River, monuments to bygone eras such as the Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment, and famous castles such as Château de Chambord, The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. This region of important history and vast beauty produces an array of delicious wine.
The Loire Valley is a varied wine region containing numerous appellations with no general signature style. Instead, it is home to a diverse range of wines including white, red, and rosé in still and sparkling styles.
For categorical purposes the Loire Valley is divided into four sub-regions – Nantais, Anjou-Samur, Touraine, and the Central Vineyards.
To correlate with the wines in this article we will look at the following appellations: Savennières, Anjou-Samur, Vouvray in Touraine, and Quincy in the Central Vineyards.
Savennières is located toward the west off Anjou-Samur. It has a relatively warm, dry climate resulting in wines that are medium to full bodied, and less floral in style. Here Chenin Blanc is produced in a dry style with loads of minerality.
2016 Domaine Des Baumard Savennières France ($33): 100% Chenin Blanc; crisp aromas of green apple and pear, quince, lemon verbena, lemon grass, bitter almond, and minerality; bone dry, crisp and energetic with a round texture, a lovely wine with great age-ability. Locate through wine-searcher.
Climate and soil have significant influence on the style of Chenin Blanc produced in a given area. As a result, there are clear differences between Chenin Blanc from Savennières and Vouvray. Vouvray, located east of the city of Tours, produces sparkling and still wines ranging from dry to lusciously sweet. The cooler climate and clay soil results in Vouvray wines that are light to medium bodied with fresh fruit and floral notes.
2017 Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Cuvee Silex Vouvray France ($18): 100% Chenin Blanc; richer aromas that include stone fruit, tropical fruit, apple, honey, baking spice, and crushed stone; it is fun to taste a Savennières and Vouvray together to explore their similarities and differences; this is a sweeter wine – off-dry, delicate with a mineral lift, not cloying, its high acidity rounds out the palate, long and focused finish. Locate through wine-searcher.
The Central Vineyards (Centre-Loire in France) is so named because it is the exact geographical center of France. Grapes have been cultivated here for 2,000 years, and it is the original home of Sauvignon Blanc. Sancerre illustrates the highest level of Sauvignon Blanc; however, other Central Vineyard appellations such as Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Quincy may be lesser known but also produce quality Sauvignon Blanc.
Quincy is actually the second appellation created in France, behind Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Its continental climate and sandy gravel terraces with limestone and silty sand results in Sauvignon Blanc grapes that ripen very early, creating a wine with deep minerality, fresh green fruit notes, and high acidity.
2017 Domaine Lecomte Quincy France ($14): 100% Sauvignon Blanc; classic Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, racy with noticeable minerality, citrus, touch of gooseberry, lemon grass, minced herbs, crushed stone; high acidity makes it crisp and refreshing yet elegant, a lovely wine with a focused mineral driven finish. Locate through wine-searcher.
Rosé de Loire can be produced in both Anjou-Samur and Touraine. It is always dry and must have a minimum of 30% Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend.
2017 Chateau de l’Eperonnière Rosé de Loire France ($19): Pours true pink in the glass; crafted of mostly Cabernet Franc with a touch of Grolleau Noir and Gamay; it is lively, full of energy, fresh notes of red summer berries mingle with orange blossom; its energy is driven by the high acidity, mouth-puckering, refreshing, delicious. Locate through wine-searcher.
I appreciate the diversity of Loire Valley wines. They are across the board exceptional food pairing wines, although sip great on their own as well. It is hard to eat seafood or shellfish without craving a wine from the Loire Valley. They are also exceptional value wines. Three of these wines are under $20, and will taste a lot better than many other wines in the same price category. Furthermore, at $33 the Savennières Chenin Blanc is a great value. It is a super high quality wine with great potential for aging. Next time you are online or at your favorite local wine retailer look for Loire Valley wines. Like me, you will love them!