The Wines of the Loire
The Loire, the longest river in France is famous for its Renaissance castles which stretch on the path of its course and is bathed in a unique light. From the Atlantic coast to the Massif Central, it is dotted with vineyards, as are its tributaries, forming a link between the vineyards of the Pays Nantais, those of Anjou, Saumur, Touraine and Center. These regions make up a wine estate larger than the Loire Valley in the strict sense, its central part. The nuances of climate and the most varied terroirs allow the elaboration of almost all styles of wines: dry, sweet and sparkling, light red or more tannic, rosé whites ... Most of them share a freshness which gives tone even to the sweetest wines.
With 13 differing wines of the central, Loire-Touraine region, there is no shortage of vin yards to visit and types to be sampling. Very locally we have the regions of Jasnières, a dry white wine, Coteaux du Loir, an elegant red, Coteaux du Vendômois Gris, a unique Rosé only allowed to be made with the Pineau d'Aunis grape and finally Vouvray, if it were in a different region, they would call it Champagne!!! Tours can be arranged, but most are open and welcome visitors to just turn up!
Developed by the Cistercion monks in the Middle Ages, celebrated by Henry IV and carefully mapped under Louis XIV, the Jasnières wine region has been experiencing something of a revival since the 1970's, both in terms of quality and in public interest. A white wine of the Chenin grape, it is perfect drunk with fish or poultry. With a nose of white flowers and fresh fruit and developing notes of dried fruit and honey.
Coteaux du Loire
Between Vendôme and Château-du-Loir, the vineyards of the AOC coteaux-du-loir cling to the slopes overlooking the Loir, which flows from east to west in a wide valley of 2 km and often deep of nearly 80 m. The forest of Bercé populated with oaks protects this valley from the north winds, while the beneficial influences of the Atlantic back to the vineyards. The red wines are of a rather clear ruby hue. The rosés are not very colourful, but shiny. The whites have a pale straw colour. The red and rosé wines combine aromas of red fruits and spices, delicately peppered. The whites are marked by primary aromas of acacia, citrus, apricot and hawthorn. After a few years of ageing, they present the Chenin's nose where, in the great years, quince and honey dominate. The red wines from pineau d'Aunis are slightly tannic and marked by spices (clove). Ageing, red fruits and, especially, sour cherries appear. From gamay, the wines are more reminiscent of the cherry and are to be drunk young. The rosés are refreshing and embellished with a delicate spicy bouquet. Dry whites have a frank attack followed by a feeling of freshness. The delicate end of the mouth evokes the fruits. The mineral impression of flint stone remains, more or less accentuated according to the years. Wine dishes: red or white meat, cheese, charcuterie, white meat, North African cuisine, cold cuts, seafood, fish.
Coteaux du Vendômois
The vines extend on the upstream part of the Loir Valley, on both sides of the river, between Vendôme and Montoire. Located on the limestone slopes, they consist mainly of chenin blanc, gamay and Pineau d'Aunis, the latter being often vinified in gray wine. In recent years, at the request of consumers, red wines are growing.
The reds have a garnet colour, with purple hues. The gray wine (rosé) is quite amazing with its pale, golden colour. The whites have a beautiful golden yellow colour. The red wines deliver a complex nose of spices, morello cherries and blackcurrants. The gray wine is surprising for its fresh and powerful bouquet with peppery aromas. Chenin whites are dry and fruity, with scents of honey and linden. The reds have a pleasant structure, supple, unctuous and well melted. The gray wine, balanced and intense, shows a good length. The whites, fresh and ample in the mouth, have a good aromatic intensity. Wine dishes: cold cuts (rillettes), red meat. seafood, fish.
Vouvray is a French region of the Loire Valley located in the Touraine district just east of the city of Tours in the commune of Vouvray. The Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) is dedicated almost exclusively to Chenin blanc though the obscure and minor grape Arbois is permitted but rarely used.
Wine production in this area is highly variable and dependent on climate conditions, with cooler years promoting the production of dry (sec)and sparkling Vouvray while warmer, more favorable vintage encourages the production of sweet moelleux or liquoreux styles produced by noble rot in a manner similar to the sweet dessert wines of Sauternes. With the naturally high acidity of Chenin blanc, Vouvrays from favorable vintages have immense ageing potential, with some examples drinking well into 100 years of age. However, it is more common to find a well aged Vouvray peaking at the 40 year mark. Across the Loire River from Vouvray is the Montlouis AOC which produces Chenin blanc based wines like Vouvray that tend to have less acidity and concentration of flavor.