The Loire Valley is divided into three sections. The Western Loire that leads to the mouth of the river's entrance to the Atlantic goes through the Muscadet region which is dominated by wines of the Melon de Bourgogne grape. The Middle Loire is dominated by more Chenin blanc and Cabernet franc wines found in the regions around Touraine, Saumur, Chinon and Vouvray. The Upper Loire includes the Sauvignon blanc dominated areas of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. There are over a dozen different grape varieties used to produce wines in the Loire Valley.
The first vineyards are thought to have been planted in the Loire Valley by the Romans during their settlement of Gaul in the first century AD. After the fall of the Roman Empire wine growing in the region came under the care of the Benedictines. In medieval times vineyards flourished in the region. The Loire River became an important means of transportation for the region and winemakers took advantage distributing their wines to the far reaches of Europe.
There has been a long tradition of royalty drinking wines from the Loire Valley. It began with Henry II, who was born in the Loire Valley in 1133. After he claimed the English throne he served Loire Valley wines at court. This boosted the wines popularity amongst nobles and peasants alike.
The French Revolution, and the great phylloxera infestation a century later decimated wine production in the region. As the area re-planted, and recovered, wine drinkers and growers wanted reassurance of quality, which resulted in the AOC for this region.
The Loire Valley is a vast region that follows the river from the Atlantic Ocean, all the way East and South almost to the Rhone. The region, which includes 87 appellations, produces nearly every style of wine you can imagine. The area is split into the Western Loire, Middle Loire and Upper Loire.
This coastal region, the “Pays de Nantes” will be the house of Muscadet. The Melon de Bourgogne grape tends to make a “neutral” wine. In awesome years it could be rather tart. The much better Muscadets come from Sèvre-et-Maine towards the east from the city of Nantes. When selecting a Muscadet, maybe probably the most essential factor to appear out for on the label will be the term “Sur Lie”. This implies that the wine has been aged on its “lees”, the mix of yeast cells and grape fragments that remains following fermentation. Sur Lie wines are bottled straight off the lees with out filtration and have added fruitiness, a nutty high quality and occasionally a bit hint of sparkle on the tongue.
This region consists of such well-known wine regions as Vouvray, Tourraine and Chinon. A entire range of wines is produced within this big region, such as red, white, rosé, sweet and sparkling. The fantastic white grape from the region will be the Chenin Blanc, that is utilized for each dry and sweet, occasionally Botrytis-affected wines. Dry Chenin Blanc might seem as Vouvray Sec, Savennières or below a number of various regional names. This wine may be rather acidic and sharp, however the very best examples possess a much more honeyed element which becomes much more pronounced as they age. Chenin Blanc, even in fairly modest bottles, tends to make certainly one of the longest lived dry white wines.
From AC Coteaux du Layon come some fantastic sweet wines. There's a micro-climate right here not in contrast to that of Sauternes, that creates the circumstances for Botrytis cinerea. These wines are luscious and balanced and reasonably priced. Appear out for the wines of AC Quarts de Chaume and AC Bonnezeaux, the leading two person ACs inside Coteaux du Layon creating brilliant sweet whites.
The middle Loire reds deserve to become much better recognized than they're. AC Chinon produces Cabernet Francs which are fresh with raspberry fruit and an earthy high quality. Appear for estate bottled examples and you will find some bargains to become discovered at about £6 or £10.00. AC Bourgueil and St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil create extremely comparable wines, and also the high quality is just about as great.
You will find fine sparkling wines produced in numerous districts, frequently signified using the word Mousseux on the label. Sparkling Vouvray is most likely the very best from the lot, produced by the Champagne technique and once more, reasonably priced. Very best producers consist of Domaine des Aubuisières and Marc Brédif.
Confusingly, this region is occasionally known as the “central vineyards” - confusing, simply because although roughly within the centre of France, it's the northeastern limit from the Loire Valley. The greatest name from the region is undoubtedly Sancerre. This globe well-known wine from the region is 100% Sauvignon Blanc for white wines (the rosé and red Sancerre is produced from Pinot Noir), the very best of which comes from the chalky hills about the town of Sancerre. At its very best, Sancerre is an extremely vivid, pungent wine, with grassy, gooseberry aromas and lots of acidity.
Just across the river lies Pouilly-Fumé, house of extremely comparable wines, although costs are now creeping as much as comparable levels. Pouilly-Fumé is stated to choose up subtle, flinty flavours from Silex, the flint-rich soil from the region.
Red and rosé wines are 100% Pinot Noir, and even though much less typical and needing a great sunny vintage to totally ripen, may be extremely great. Leading Sancerre producers consist of Bourgeois, de Ladoucette, Cotat, Château de Tracy and Crochet.
Simply to the west of Sancerre lies an fascinating region: AC Menetou-Salon. This region produces beautiful wines utilizing exactly the same grapes, each red and white. Less expensive than Sancerre (and occasionally even much better), leading producers consist of Pellé, Chavet and Teiller.
The Loire Valley is a vast region that produces an enormous amount of wine. The main grapes grown in the region are Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Melon de Bourgogne. Small plantings of many other grape varieties are found scattered throughout the region including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Gamay.
Many world class wines are produced in the Loire Valley, using many different grapes and blends. One thing nearly all wines made within this region have in common is a high amount of acidity which tend to give them a fresh crisp flavor while young, which mellows as the wines age.