Loire Valley: Wine makes it a go-to destination
It is amazing that no matter how busy New Yorkers are they can find a few afternoon hours to attend a wine event. There was such a large response to a recent tasting of the wines of the Loire Valley I wondered if anyone in the city was still working.
The Loire Valley region attracts many visitors for it is less than one hour by TGV from Paris and the area offers over 600 hotels and 550 restaurants. Mick Jagger owns a castle near Amboise, Gerard Depardieu was born and lived in the region, Patrick Viera (footballer) is from Dreux, and Jude Law’s parents own a property in this vicinity.
The region includes the Loire River from Muscadet (near Nantes on the Atlantic coast) to Sancerre and Poully-Fume (southeast of the city of Orleans in north central France). In between are the regions of Anjou, Saumur, Bourgueil, Chinon and Vouvray.
Come for the Wine
The area embraces 87 appellations (AOC), Vin Delimite de Qualite Superieure (VDQS) and Vin de Pays systems. In general, the characteristics are fruitiness, with fresh, crisp flavors (especially while young).
Since the 1st century, the Valley has been producing wine and in the High Middle Ages, the wines were the most esteemed in England and France and of greater value than Bordeaux. Today 97 percent of the Loire wines are at the AOC and Vin de Pays level making even the average bottle – delicious. The area is massive and encompasses a multiple of landscapes making it suitable for a wide variety of wines from sparkling aperitif to rich reds, from sweet dessert wines to fresh and fruity whites. With such a large landscape growers encounter a variety of climates and terroir, making it a yearly challenge for consistency.
Spring to Loire 2017 Event in Manhattan
Curated Wines Tasting
1. Monmousseau. Cremant de Loire (AOC, NV). Chenin, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir
The Loire Valley is France’s largest producer of sparkling wines outside of the Champagne region. The specifications for the Cremant de Loire requires:
a. Hand picking in baskets with holes so the grapes are not crushed before being pressed
b. Champagne – like pressing without chains to avoid damage to the grapes
c. Cuvee developed to traditional method process
d. Secondary fermentation and maturation in underground caves at a natural constant temperature of 12 degrees C for a minimum of 24 months
• To the eye, almost crystal clear with subtle, fine and abundant bubbles. To the nose – fruity, fresh, lively and fragrant with honeysuckle and citrus (more limes than lemons and grapefruit) delivers visions of spring rain on a French countryside. The perfect balance is achieved through slight acidity of Chenin grapes and mouthful sensation from the Cabernet Franc (for roundness and fullness). Delightful as an aperitif.
2. L’Essentiel Brut Zero, (AOC, NV).Chenin, Chardonnay
• To the eye – transparent with delightful bubbles. The nose is engaged with floral aromas, lemons and limes, apples and pears, grassy meadows and daisies after a spring rain. The light and delicate fizz lasts through to the very last moment and carries an incredible tartness of citrus tempered by the merest hint of honey. Serve as an aperitif, or with sushi, goat cheese or apples baked with cinnamon.
3. Domaine de Saint Landor. Cremant de Loire (AOC, NV). Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc
The Cremant de Loire appellation was established in 1975 as an alternative to Champagne. Chenin Blanc dominates these wines, with Chardonnay (or Pinot Noir) adding substance. In general, noted for the delicious smell of honey alongside green apples and suggestions of hazelnuts.
This winery is among the top 10 for number of awards won for wines of the region including Concours General Agricole Paris – Gold (2013, 2011) and listed in the 10 top Cremant de Loire wines.
• To the eye, very clear with fine bubbles. The nose detects grapefruit, lemon zest, fresh spring meadow breezes with memories of crystal clear springs and sunshine. The finish is long and flavorful. Pair with freshly shucked oysters.
4. Domaine Champeau. Pouilly Fume (AOC 2014). Sauvignon Blanc
Pouilly-Fume (Pouilly sur Loire – the village where the wine originates; Blanc Fume – local name for Sauvignon Blanc) is a dry white wine from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The soil types include limestone, marlstone, clay and flint.
The vineyard was started in 1942 by Leon Champeau and the estate has been in the family ever since. Currently it is managed by Franck and Guy who are cousins. The vineyard encompasses 40 acres with clay-limestone soil with little or no chemicals.
“Our soils are being worked more and more by hoeing to limit the use of weed killer…For several years, we have been practicing phytosanitary protection, with respect for the fauna and our terroirs. The wine making is done in stainless steel vats, the fermentation at controlled temperature, then take place the racking then the bonding followed by the reassembling on the lees, to give roundness and aromatic complexity.” Awarded Le Guide Hachette des Vins (2016) Cite.
• To the eye, clear to light gold. The nose detects herbs and spices and fresh vegetables (carrots and peppers) against a floral landscape. On the palate, a delicious mix of citrus and vegetables that set a crisp and refreshing landscape. Pair with grilled lobster, or poached haddock or scrod.
5. Barton & Guestier Passeport. AOC Vouvray 2015. Chen Blanc
The appellation is based in the area of Tours and includes seven cities on the right bank of the Loire River and near the Brenne River. The only authorized varietal is Chenin Blac (aka Pineau de Loire). The soil is composed of clay, limestone and sand. The clime ate is mild and humid in the western part of the appellation with some continental influence in the east where the wines have increased protection.
The B&G Passeport range is an exclusive collection of French AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) wines. All the wines are from grapes grown in specific areas, with a strict control of grape varieties, yields and winemaking methods. The B&G Vouvray awards include: Los Angeles International Wine Competition – Gold (2016).
• Clear to the eye with florals (white flowers) and fruit (grapefruit and peach) to the nose that delivers honeysuckle, pear and peach sweetness on the palate. A sweet fruity and long aromatic finish. Serve as an aperitif or pair with smoked fish, roast chicken or turkey.
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© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.