The Loire Valley is the longest valley in France wending its way from the very centre of the country to the Atlantic coast; as you would imagine the styles and types of foods and wine are very diverse, varying from having a strong maritime influence in the west to a more continental focus towards the centre of France, where pork and game dominate the cuisine. The same of course is true of the wines which go from being light and fresh whites to fuller, tannic reds closer to the source of the River Loire.
The valley is the home of Sauvignon Blanc
where it produces some of the finest examples of the world famous crisp, dry whites Sancerre
. The other well-known white is Muscadet
which is made from the grape variety Melon de Bourgogne – a rather bland varietal that produces its best results in the micro-climate to the west of Loire, matching perfectly with oysters local to the area.
The Loire also produces some lovely, light rosé wines; some with a sweeter finish like Rosé d’Anjou
and others that are dry and fine like Sancerre Rosé
When it comes to reds the predominant grape variety of the region is Cabernet Franc and this grape produces savoury wines that are light but are often quite tannic such as the Chinon, Bourgeuil and Saumur-Champigny. These reds are best served a little cooler, as they are in the region, as it helps diminish the dryness on the finish and accentuates the red fruit flavours in the wine. The acidity and tannins in these reds go perfectly with the wonderful charcuterie or the rich, potted pork dish, “rillettes”, which is native to the region.
The Loire is also well known for its fabulous sweet white wines made from the Chenin Blanc
grape. These wines, when affected by “noble rot” or Botrytis - a mould that has the positive effect of intensifying and concentrating the juice in the grapes - taste like nectar and go perfectly with rich creamy cheeses such as Vacherin or the superb goat’s cheeses from the Loire. Alternatively they are the ideal accompaniment to the wonderful caramelised, upside-down apple cake Tarte Tatin.
Another medium-sweet white wine native to the Loire is Vouvray
, very famous in the UK in the 1970’s and now a little out of favour, but never-the-less a lovely wine for people who do not like their wines too dry.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the picturesque town of Tours boasts some rather fine sparkling wines called Saumur
. Produced in exactly the same way as Champagne via the traditional method, and with a fine mousse and retrained citrus fruit character, the sparkling wine from Tours in some cases represent better value than their more vaunted neighbours.
The Loire Valley is saturated with a wonderfully diverse array of different foods that are more than a match for the region’s well-documented excellence in winemaking.
To read about the Loire Valley and the region’s places of interest click here.
To view our wines from the Loire region click here.