Wine Culture and Information since 2002 - Volume 18
×
Home Page Events Wine Guide Wine of the Day Aquavitae Wine Places Guide Podcast Polls EnoGames EnoForum Serving Wine Alcohol Test
Follow DiWineTaste on DiWineTaste Mobile for Android DiWineTaste Mobile for iOS Become a Registered User Subscribe to the Mailing List Tell a Friend About DiWineTaste Download DiWineTaste Card
About Us Write Us Back Issues Advertising General Index
Privacy Policy
 


 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of ABC Wine column Wine Tasting 
  ABC Wine Issue 31, June 2005   
Loire ValleyLoire Valley  Contents 
Issue 30, May 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 32, Summer 2005

Loire Valley

Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc are the most important grapes of this French wine region, famous for its white wines, as well as for Cabernet Franc, the main grape in red wines

 According a wine making point of view, Loire Valley is one of the most interesting wine regions in France. Besides being extended on a pretty wide territory with different environmental characteristics - Loire Valley is among the largest wine regions in France - here are being produced many wine styles, from whites to reds, from roses to sparkling wines as well as sweet wines. Loire Valley is mainly known in the world for the production of white wines, and in particular the ones produced with Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc grapes, however the production of red wines is interesting as well, in particular the ones from Cabernet Franc and Gamay grapes. Loire Valley is also renowned for another white wine, produced in the western area of the region, around the city of Nantes: Muscadet. This wine - usually appreciated for the matchings with crustaceans - represents the main production in terms of quantity and it is produced with Melon de Bourgogne grape, here known as Muscadet.

 The territory of this wine region goes along the course of Loire river, the longest in France. The first wine area of Loire Valley is located in the beginning of the river - west from Burgundy - and going towards north, still along the course of the river and near the city of Orléans, are found other wine areas, pretty distant one from another. When the course of the river arrives near the cities of Nevers and Bourges, then arriving to the city of Orléans, where it angles towards west and continues its course towards the Atlantic ocean, begins the most important wine area of Loire Valley, the area from which comes the most important wines of the region. It is right in these areas - proceeding to the western part near the Atlantic ocean - are being produced the most important wines of Loire Valley such as Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Vouvray, Savennières, Quarts de Chaume, Montlouis, Chinon, Bourgueil, Menetou-Salon and Muscadet. The wines of Loire Valley - as opposed to other French wine regions - are distinguished for the variety with which are being produced: whites, roses, reds, sweets and sparkling wines, these all are wine styles which can be found in the areas of this region.


Loire Valley
Loire Valley

 Despite the wine styles produced in the Loire Valley are many, the region is however particularly associated to whites, certainly the most famous style in the world also thanks to the quality of the territory and of the grapes used for their production: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne. Of the three, Sauvignon Blanc certainly represents the celebrity of Loire Valley: the wines produced with this grape in this region are usually considered the reference model in all the wine areas of the world in which the grape is cultivated. In recent times Muscadet is being revaluated as well - the famous white wine produced with Melon de Bourgogne grape in the area near Nantes and the Atlantic coast - which represents, in terms of quantity, the most produced wine in the Loire Valley. The region's climate is pretty cool and the temperature often reaches pretty low values, almost to the limit of surviving for vines. In warm years, when the bunches of grapes receive a better exposure to sun rays, wines of this region can express their best condition, also thanks to the low temperatures ensuring their typical acidity.

 Because of the particularly rigid climate, in the years in which cold temperature and rains are frequent, the quantity of sugar in berries is particularly low and therefore wines have little alcohol and little body. For this reason, in these years producers of Loire Valley are allowed to add sugar to the must in order to increase the production of alcohol as well as to give more body to the wine. Chaptalization - despite it is frequently practiced in the northern and cool areas of France - is usually done in low quality and value wines, whereas serious and reliable producers hardly make use of this method saved in exceptional cases and in particularly bad years. Despite wines from Loire Valley are usually characterized by acidity and freshness of grape's aromas, since about twenty years it is getting more and more common the practice of fermenting and aging white wines in barriques, with the result of making more robust wines and with evident toasted qualities, very different from what can be considered the classic style of the region. The main white berried grapes of the Loire Valley include Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne, Arbois, Chardonnay and Folle Blanche. Among red berried grapes are included Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Grolleau, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec (here known as Côt), Pineau d'Aunis and Pinot Meunier.

 

Classification of Loire Valley

 Loire Valley is among the largest wine areas of France and it is recognized by the French quality system as AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, Appellation of Guaranteed Origin). According to a wine making point of view, the most important area in Loire Valley is the northern one, ideally divided into three areas. In the western part, near the Atlantic coast and around the city of Nantes, is found the production area of Muscadet, in the middle part are found the areas of Anjou-Saumur and Touraine, whereas in the eastern part, south from the city of Orléans, are located the production areas of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Whereas the production in the two external areas is oriented to white wines, in the middle part the production is very rich and makes different styles, from whites to reds, from roses to sparkling wines as well as sweet wines of rare elegance produced with grapes affected by Botrytis Cinerea. In the southern part, the one located west from Bourgogne, the production is about white, roses and red wines. Finally, in the Loire Valley is found a large production area of Vin de Pays - among the largest in France - and classified with the Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France appellation.

 

Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Central Vineyards

 The areas south from Orléans, up to the cities of Bourges and Nevers, are called “central vineyards”. The reason of this name is not because the area is located at the center of Loire Valley, but at the center of France. The main grape in the vineyards in this region is Sauvignon Blanc with which are produced among the best wines of the world and in particular in the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, considered as the reference model in other production areas. Sauvignon Blanc wines from this region express organoleptic characteristics like in no other part of the world, with aromas of flint, vegetal as well as smokey, a quality which determined the name with which Sauvignon Blanc is usually known in these lands: Blanc Fumé. In this area Sauvignon Blanc - also thanks to a particularly cool climate - expresses a pretty high acidity which contributes to the finesse and elegance of these wines. Despite the grape is used for the production of white wines in the whole region, the best Sauvignon Blanc examples are represented by Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.


 

 Sancerre is located in the western bank of the Loire river and the production of wines is extremely interesting. In the Sancerre area are found very good vineyards - with soils made of chalk and flint sediments - and the best ones are Le Grand Chemarin, Chêne Marchand and Clos de la Poussie. In the eastern bank of Loire river is found the city of Pouilly-sur-Loire, renowned for the production of Pouilly-Fumé. Soils in this area are rich in limestone, a characteristic believed to be responsible for the strong smokey aroma of the wines produced here. The enological techniques used in this region favor the keeping of freshness in wines, therefore the traditional method consists in the vinification in inert containers, such as cement and stainless steel. In the 1980's some producers introduced the use of barrique in order to increase the complexity and the body of wines, therefore obtaining results appreciated by many as well as disliked by others because too distant from what it is being considered the classic model of Loire Valley. Other production areas of this region include Menetou-Salon, Quincy and Reuilly, all being oriented to the production of white wines with Sauvignon Blanc. The only area in which are being produced red and roses wines is Sancerre in which are exclusively used Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes.

 

Touraine

 Going towards west, is found the wine area of Touraine in which are being produced white and red wines. The climate of this area offers good conditions for the cultivation of red grapes that in Touraine means Cabernet Franc. The most renowned areas for the production of red wines are Chinon, Bourgueil and St.-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. Red wines from Touraine are generally produced with 100% Cabernet Franc or Gamay, however in many cases are also used Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec (Côt), Pineau d'Aunis and Grolleau. The most renowned white wines in Touraine are the ones belonging to the Vouvray appellation. Here it is Chenin Blanc to play the main role in vineyards and the white wines of this area are exclusively produced with this grape. Another interesting appellation - although less known than Vouvray - is Montlouis, whose wines are being produced with Chenin Blanc only. Wines from Vouvray represent the highest expression of Chenin Blanc produced in many styles, from dry to sweet made with grapes affected by Botrytis Cinerea, as well as sparkling wines. The climate of Vouvray is pretty cool and this allows to keep a pretty high level of acidity in grapes as well as giving a very good balance in sweet wines that, with a proper aging, get extraordinary organoleptic qualities.

 

Anjou-Saumur

 The wine area of Anjou-Saumur is among the most interesting ones of the Loire Valley for the variety of styles. Here the production is virtually about every style, including sparkling and sweet wines. In this area are mainly produced rose wines, however white is the most known style, in particular the wines belonging to the Savennières appellation. Here, as well as in Touraine, the white grape protagonist in vineyards is Chenin Blanc, with which are probably produced the best expression of wines in the world. Thanks to the particular environmental and climate conditions, here Chenin Blanc is capable of giving wines with a pleasing minerality, freshness and complex aromas like in no other place of the world and it can also stand to tens of years of aging in bottle. Anjou-Saumur is also a famous area for the production of sweet wines, that in favorable years, thanks to the development of Botrytis Cinerea or noble rot, reaches superlative levels of elegance. Once again, the grape responsible for the production of these wonderful wines is Chenin Blanc.

 The best sweet wines of Anjou-Saumur are from the appellation of Quarts de Chaume, a pretty small area however capable of producing extraordinary wines. The secret of these wines is represented by acidity that reaches levels such to perfectly balance sweetness, to which is also added the complexity of aromas and tastes provided by Botrytis Cinerea. Other excellent sweet wines in this area are from Bonnezeaux, Coteaux de Layon and Coteaux de l'Aubance appellations. One of the main wines produced in this area is Rosé d'Anjou, mainly produced with Grolleau grape to which is often added Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon Côt (Malbec), Pineau d'Aunis and Gamay. Simple wines and basically sweet, as opposed to Rosé de Loire - produced with the same grapes - which is always dry. Red wines in this area are mainly produced with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay, alone or assembled. The Anjou-Saumur area is also famous for the production of sparkling wines. The best examples are produced in the Saumur area, all being obtained with classic method and belonging to the appellations of Saumur and Crémant de Loire. The appellation of Saumur can be produced with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc grapes, whereas Crémant de Loire is mainly produced with Chenin Blanc and a part of Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. Despite producers rarely use them, these sparkling wines can also be produced with Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Côt (Malbec), Gamay, Pinot Noir, Pineau d'Aunis and Grolleau grapes.

 

Muscadet

 A not very known wine but however representing the main production in terms of quantity in the Loire Valley. Muscadet is produced in the large area around Nantes, not very distant from the Atlantic coats. Muscadet is a relatively simple wine and produced with Melon de Bourgogne grape, locally called Muscadet. The best examples of this wine come from the Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine area, a district which is named after the two homonymous rivers of the area. Muscadet generally is a simple and immediate wine, famous for the matchings with crustaceans and seafood. In order to increase the complexity and structure of this wine, in the 1970's and 1980's many producers began aging Muscadet sur lie - that is on its lees and yeast - a practice which, in fact, makes the wine more interesting. Today are usually produced both styles, however the most common is sur lie, generally written in the label. The fermentation of Muscadet is generally done in steel tanks, however some producers also make use of casks with different sizes even for aging. Finally, in the same production area of Muscadet, is also produced Gros Plant, a light bodied wine obtained with Folle Blanche grape.

 




 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of ABC Wine column Wine Tasting 
  ABC Wine Issue 31, June 2005   
Loire ValleyLoire Valley  Contents 
DiWineTaste Polls
What kind of wine do you like having in December?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   
What should restaurants improve in wine service?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   
Do you decant an aged wine before serving?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   



Privacy Policy

Download your free DiWineTaste Card  :  Test your Blood Alcohol Content  :  Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on Twitter

Download DiWineTaste
Copyright © 2002-2019 Antonello Biancalana, DiWineTaste - All rights reserved
All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this publication and of this WEB site may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from DiWineTaste.