A Wine Cellar guide to Loire wines
Though the wines of the Loire Valley in north-west France were highly prized in the Middle Ages, today most of its bottlings are underappreciated or overlooked. Warmed by the Loire River and influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, the region has a cool maritime climate that becomes more continental as one moves further inland.
Common white varieties
Melon de Bourgogne, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
Common red varieties
Cabernet Franc, Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir
The wines of Loire
The red Cabernet Franc wines of the Loire are characterised by subtle oaking, resulting in fresh, fruity wines with high acidity and soft tannins. White wines are made in quite a modern style with use of stainless steel tanks and very gentle oaking. These wines tend to be less fruit forward than those made in a similar style in the New World as they are often aged ‘sur lie’ (on the lees), which creates a fuller wine with a creamy mouthfeel.
The Loire’s most celebrated expressions of Sauvignon Blanc are produced in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, whilst Chenin Blanc is made from Vouvray to Savennieres in a variety of styles, from bone-dry to lusciously sweet.
The wines are classified under the French AOC system, which designates 87 Loire appellations. Vouvray AC in the Touraine district is one of the most celebrated as it is a source of some of the world’s greatest sweet Chenin Blancs. The wines of top producers, such as Domaine Huet, remain fresh and lively for decades, largely as a result of Chenin’s high acidity and intense aromatic profile.
Clos du Bourg
Did you know?
Pinotage is a South African-born variety. It was created in the 1920s by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and has given rise to the Cape Blend, which is generally made from Bordeaux varieties along with a small percentage of Pinotage.