The Loire Valley - wonderful Chateau, Wines & History, just a taster of the area.
The Loire Valley in France is home to some of the best known vineyards & wines in the world, and of course stunningly beautiful chateau, some 300 or more. The river itself, the towns, vineyards & chateau are just part of the reason for this area becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The central part of the river valley, between Chalonnes-sur-Loire and Sully-sur-Loire, was added in 2000. The area is called 'The Garden of France' due to the vast acreage of vineyards, fruit & vegetable fields that line the banks of the river. People have lived in this area since the Middle Palaeolithic times - Yes, okay, we had to look that up too - about 30,000 to 100,000 years ago!! No wonder the area is referred to as 'The Cradle of France'. So, just a little history to be found here.
Loire wines have a lightness, a freshness that make them so appealing. There is no such thing as a heavy Loire wine, nor a high-alcohol Loire wine. When you consider that the Loire stretches from a source near Beaujolais, 630 miles to the Atlantic it is remarkable that the wines are so consistent in character. The climate here is moderate, it never gets too cold in winter and not too hot in the summer. Vines grow well here because of the river and it's many tributaries, which raise temperatures just high enough and long enough into the Autumn for harvesting.
The countryside in the Loire Valley is beautiful. The grand elegant chateau, historic & ancient cities & towns all set along the meandering river. A special place to explore. And, if you like wine, this is a good place to spend a few days or weeks even, visiting vineyards!
The four major wines / grapes in the area are Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne (better known as Muscadet) & Cabernet Franc. The Sauv Blanc is where we want to concentrate for this blog - will do another blog for the other grape varieties, Soon!
On a conical hill in the eastern reaches of the Loire, the city of Sancerre dominates the vineyards that tumble down the slopes of pure white chalk. Small villages, packed with wineries, are linked by roads packed with tractors. In the valley just to the east, the Loire River divides Sancerre from its neighbor, Pouilly-sur-Loire, where Pouilly-Fumé is produced.
This is the spiritual heartland of Sauvignon Blanc. From here, the grape has spread around the world, bringing its unforgettable grassy and citrus aromas, flavors of grapefruit and gooseberry to millions of wine drinkers. What is it about this grape that has so enchanted wine drinkers? It is the simple, fruity purity above all. It is exuberant, bright, great with food and as an apéritif. Try Domaine Pre Semele Sancerre.
In the Loire, Sauvignon Blanc is also a grape of terroir, of several different terroirs in fact. Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre should be balanced with Fruit, Body & Minerality.
Across the river, in Pouilly-sur-Loire, Pouilly Fumé is generally richer, a product of the greater amount of clay in the soil. The wines start awkwardly, and only after three years do they start to show their ripe, full-bodied character. One to try : Domaine Soumard Pouilly Fume
In their different ways, producers in both these appellations craft “serious” Sauvignon Blanc—that is, Sauvignon Blanc that can have complexity and some potential for aging. They are not always inexpensive: Some of the top Sancerres and Pouilly Fumés can sell for upwards of £30, although they are also available for around £13
In Touraine, to the west of Sancerre, the Sauvignon Blanc is for pure, early-drinking pleasure. Touraine Sauv Blancs are a good bet when looking for a Sauivgnon Blanc that is going to deliver on quality, taste and price. Our Domaine du Pre Baron Touraine SB at £7.99 is an excellent example.