The Loire Valley is a one of a kind, enormous wine region in northern France. The region extends along the Loire River, the mouth of which ends on the western boarder, in the Atlantic and extends over 200km east, a few hours south east of Paris.
Because this region is so wide, and the ocean on the western edge, but land-locked on the eastern edge, there are a variety of climates within it. On the coast – the weather will still be cool but have a ton more rainfall.
So here’s a quick breakdown of each of the 4 regions and the main grapes:
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The Loire Valley: Payes Nantes
Payes Nantes – best known for Muscadet Sevre et Maine – is the area on the coast. Muscadet is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, which yields light bodied, high acid, and simple wines. The best, Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie mean that the wines have aged on the lees (dead yeast cells) to give the wine a hint of brioche-esque or yogurt-like note. Aging on the lees also adds more roundness and slightly more body to these light and low alcohol wines (maximum allowed is 12% abv). Best paired with raw oysters! Here’s a great example of Muscadet from Total Wine.
The Loire Valley: Anjou-Saumur
Moving further east, is Anjou-Saumur. Here, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc reign supreme for white and red grapes respectively. Savennières is best known for dry, still Chenin Blanc styles of wine. These wines are full bodied and have rich stone fruit flavors, while still maintaining excellent acidity. The soils in Anjou and Saumur are warm and stony, which prevent Chenin Blanc from over-ripening too much. The Mauges hills protecting the region of Anjou from the cooling Atlantic winds, along with a slight altitude in hills and southerly aspect that allow Savennières wines to reach a higher level of ripeness than anywhere else in the Loire. In Anjou the Chenin Blanc wines will be dry, fuller bodied and typically aged in oak. In Saumur the reputation is based on great quality sparkling wines from Chenin, made in the the traditional style. Here’s my absolute favorite! If interested in sweet Chenin Blanc styles, look at Coteaux du Layon in the Anjou region.
The Loire Valley: Touraine
Touraine is the next area further east, with cool climate and clay soils yielding lighter, fresh fruity wines. It’s biggest claim to fame is Cabernet Franc from Chinon and Bourgueil. Definitely look at this Chinon. The lighter fruity wines come from sandy soils, but fuller bodied, age-worthy wines come from limestone and clay soils. The next area is Vouvray, extra special because of the tuffeau soils (a chalky limestone) a still and sparkling Chenin Blanc based appellation – these wines can range from bone dry to very sweet. Touraine also produces the majority of Sauvignon Blanc wines, but these are typically less complex than Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume. These Sauvignon Blanc wines can also be called Sauvignon de Touraine.
The Loire Valley: Central Vineyards
Central Vineyards: Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé are the big names here. Menetou Salon is also great to know if you’re going to bonus points and looking for a similar style but more budget friendly prices. Sancerre will be the highest priced wines, exceptional quality. Pouilly Fumé is a bit less, but still prestigious. The soils of Pouilly Fume and Sancerre are chalky limestone, giving the wines an electric acidity and elegant minerality. Menetou Salon, on the other hand, has more clay soils, which means that these wines are not has electrifying nor as finessed.
So those are the regions in a very small nutshell. Remember – we are in France so all of these areas will call their wines not by the varietal, but by the town name. i.e. Bourgueil & Chinon (think Cabernet Franc), or Savenierres (think Chenin Blanc) and of course, Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé – Sauvignon Blanc.
Les Deux Tours Wine Review
This wine is special because, while it is from Touraine, the soils it’s grown on are chalky limestone and flint. Very similar to Sancerre/Pouilly Fume. Even better – the area is called “Valley of The Kings” (the castle-esque winery definitely fits into the image). This wine is also matured on the fine lees, yielding a nice toasted bread note.
Now – Touraine can be seen as a “bargain” wine of lesser quality. However – it’s clear from this specific bottle that you can still find great quality wines.
What I really enjoy about this wine is that it combines the bright grapefruit, “fruit salad in a glass” style of New Zealand and tempers it with the savory, grassy and vegetal notes that are often found in Sancerre. So really – you get the best of both worlds.
Here’s my review:
Appearance: This wine is pale lemon.
Nose: This wine has medium plus intensity and youthful. This wine has notes of green apple, pink grapefruit, lemon zest and green vegetal (bell pepper) qualities. There are also notes of wet stones and yogurt.
Palate: This wine is dry, with medium plus flavor intensity. This wine has high acidity, medium alcohol, medium minus body, and a medium finish. There are notes of tart green apple, pink grapefruit, and lemon. There are also notes of wet stones, belle pepper and yogurt.
Assessment of quality: This is a good wine.
Level of Readiness for Drinking: This wine is suitable to drink now, suitable to age until 2023.
Have you had this wine? What did you think?
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