Friday, February 10, 2012

Notes on the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley wine region is situated south of Normandy and north of Cognac.  It has one of the coldest and wettest growing seasons in France. It's name comes from France's longest river which starts in central France and then ends at the Atlantic. The river affects the climate by warming the flanking vineyards.

Starting downstream in the Lower Loire or Pays Nantais, the Gulf Stream is also an important warming factor in the most maritime of the sub-regions. This area contains four ACs producing dry white wines from the Muscadet grape also known as Melon de Bourgogne. The wines can be fairly neutral so to add some flavor complexity and to create a creamier texture, many wines are aged with the yeast, or Sur Lie. The legal requirements are that the Muscadet wine must be aged on its lees from vinification through March of the following year. It cannot spend more than one winter on the lees. The wines are easy-drinking and affordable and most are consumed locally.

Guilbaud Freres Le Soleil Nantais Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie - A clear, pale gold color in the glass with clean, medium intense youthful aromas of green apple, lemon and yeast. Flavors mirrored the aromas with medium- body, alcohol, acidity and length. Good, drink now-not intended for aging. $14

The Middle Loire is known as the Garden of France and the vineyards lie between the city of Angers and Tours. Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc (also known as Breton) are the primary grapes of this sub-region but there are also many others. The winters are slightly colder and the summers are slightly warmer than in the west so the grapes develop good acidity but the red grapes may have difficulty with tannin and color development.

2006 Domaine Gouron Terroir Chinon - Loire Valley - A clear, light ruby in the glass. Clean, medium intense developing aromas of red fruit, black olives and mint. Medium- body, medium acidity and alcohol, medium+ tannins with a sour cherry and pepper medium length finish. Good food wine/ drink now with roasted duck. $20

These same climate conditions are favorable for the production of sparkling wine and the production of Cremant de Loire is centered in Saumur. The Loire Valley is 2nd in France's overall sparkling production falling only behind Champagne.

De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Brut - Clear, pale straw color with abundant pinpoint bubbles. Clean, light aromas of pear and toasted nuts with floral notes. Dry, light body, medium+ acidity with a medium- finish. Recommended/ Very good. $14


De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Rose Brut - Clear, pale salmon color with limited pinpoint bubbles. Clean, light aromas of strawberry with floral notes. Dry, light body, medium+ acidity with a medium- finish. Good, I liked the other one better. $15

The Upper Loire produces white wine primarily from Sauvignon Blanc and red wine from Pinot Noir. The climate is more extreme than in the rest of the region and does not allow for the grape diversity of the Middle Loire. Pouilly Fume produces some of the area's most well-known wines.

2010 Cuvee Les Galfins Pouilly Fume 
Clear, medium- ruby color. Clean, medium intense youthful aromas of grapefruit, grass and chamomile. Dry, medium- body, high acid, medium alcohol with green apple and citrus flavors and a touch of minerality in the medium+ length finish. Very good/ drink now. (A little disappointed to not get the smokey/gunflint character for which the area is famous.) $18

related post:
Tasting Notes on Some Loire Valley Wines