Spring into Loire Valley Wines

Loire Valley Wines

The diversity of grape varieties is one of the best ways to describe Loire Valley wines.  Spring to Loire 2019 presented a trade tasting with three seminars led by Matthew Kaner, focused on France’s most diverse wine region.  Not only does one find diversity of grapes in the region but diversity of the climate and soils.  Meshing all three together, you sense a cultural landscape, which makes the Loire Valley the garden of France.

Matthew Kaner - Loire Valley Wines
Matthew Kaner led the Loire Valley Wines Seminars.

Loire Valley Grapes

The Loire Valley grows at least 24 grape varieties, with the top ones being Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc in reds and Chenin Blanc, Melon De Bourgogne, and Sauvignon Blanc in the whites.  Most of the wine produced is white, followed by Rosé, red, and sparkling.  Other reds also grown in the region include Pinot Noir Grolleau ( a Light red variety often used in sparkling wine), Gamay, Pineau D’Aunis (a light-skinned red grape), and Côt, also known as Malbec.

Loire Valley AOP

The Loire Valley is the largest AOP in France and one of the ten main wine-producing areas in that country.  The Loire River, the longest in France traverses through all the regions of the Loire Valley.  Most of the wineries are situated along the river.  From the Upper Loire, you find Sauvignon Blanc.  The Middle Loire, which consists of the regions of Touraine, Saumur, Chinon, and Vouvray, you find Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc predominantly, while the Lower Loire, which starts at the entrance of the Atlantic Ocean and is considered the Muscat region and known as for Melon de Bourgogne.

Marquis de Goulaine Wines
Marquis de Goulaine Wines.

The Climate

The Atlantic Ocean and the Loire River, depending on the location, influence the area’s climate.  The locations furthest from the sea see a more European continental climate, but most of the valley from Nantes through Angers to Tours receive ocean breezes from the Atlantic.

The Soils

The soils range from igneous and metamorphic rock from the Massif Armoricain in the Nantes area to more sedimentary rocks and seashells in the Paris Bassin. The Massif Central Highland region features inactive volcanos. More precisely, in Pays Nantais, soils are composed of volcanic rock, gneiss, and granite.  In Anjou Schists, chalk and limestone exist, while in Saumur chalky soils dominate. Touraine sees the chalky soils in the west but flinty clay and sand in the east.  On the slopes, clay and limestone predominate.  On the banks of the Loire, the soils are gravelly.  Finally, in the Centre-Loire, one finds chalk, clay, limestone, and flint.

Loire Valley Wines – Rosé

The overall area for producing Rosé wines in the Loire Valley centers in the Rosé de Loire, known as the PGI Val de Loire.  This appellation, created in 1974, covers the territory of Anjou and Touraine.  The Rosés in this area are off-dry, fresh and fruity. The residual sugar must be less than 3 grams per liter of sugar.

Rosé-d’anjou is the oldest area producing slightly sweeter Rosés because the minimum grams of sugar is seven and must not exceed more than 20 grams of sugar.  In this appellation, the fruit is more pronounced, and the wine itself seems denser.

Le Pré Châtain 2017 combines mostly Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, Gamay, Pineau d’Aunis.  I found raspberry flavors with a nice balance of acid.

Marquis de Goutaine Rosé d’Anjou 2018, although semi-sweet, the wine is fresh, crisp and clean yet elegant and very flavorful without being overly sweet.

Pierre & Bertrand Couly Brut Fines Bulles de l ellipse Cremant De Loire
Pierre & Bertrand Pierre & Bertrand Couly Brut Fines Bulles de l’ellipse Crémant De Loire.

Loire Valley Wines – Sparkling Wine

Pierre & Bertrand Couly Brut  Fines Bulles de l’ellipse Crémant De Loire by far was my favorite wine at this tasting.  I found a soft, elegant sparkling wine created from Cabernet Franc.

Château D’Avrillé Crément de Loire delivers a fruity, fresh, yet tart sparkling wine that consists of Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, and Pinot Noir.

Bonnet-Huteau Muscadets
Bonnet-Huteau Muscadets.

Loire Valley Wines – Whites

Marquis de Goulaine Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2017 delivers a soft elegance in both the aromas and on the palate.  This wine is light and refreshing, showing the purity of the fruit.

Attitude by Pascal Jolivet 2018 Sauvignon Blanc delivers a fresh expression of the grape with predominantly lemony flavors.

Bonnet-Huteau Muscadet Sévre & Maine  La Tarciére and the Bonnet – Huteau Sévre & Maine Clos Moulin Chartrie were excellent examples of the Melon De Bourgogne grape.

Vincent Gaudry Les Garennes Sancerre
Vincent Gaudry Les Garennes Sancerre.

Loire Valley Wines – Reds

Marquis de Goulaine Chinon Le Haut Presle 2017 was my favorite Cabernet Franc.  The wine delivered a very feminine demur with a purity that was light and balanced.

Vincent Gaudry Les GarennesSancere 2015, composed of Pinot Fin, was bright well-balanced, and alive.

Domaine De Terres Blanches Anjou Demon 2017 Red is another fun Cabernet Franc that is well-balanced with dark fruits.

Les Terres Blanches Anjou Demon
Les Terres Blanches Anjou Demon.

Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received a hosted wine tasting of Loire Valley Wines. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.