About the origins, the regions, climate and terroir, main grape varities and styles of wines of Loire Valley of France

December 21, 2010

About Wines from Loire Valley of France
Best wine supplier in Philippines discusses wine related topics

Wines of the loire, france
The Loire wine region produces a surprisingly wide variety of different wines, ranging from simple, crisp Muscadets to rich, sweet Vouvrays; from plain “vins de tables” to fresh, light sparkling wines. The spectrum is impressive.
Unfortunately, up until recently, the Loire was synonymous with poor quality Muscadet and often, unpalatable Rosé d’Anjou. Nowadays, however, the tide of opinion has turned, and Loire wines are very much sought after.
From as early as 380 AD, vines were grown in the Loire Valley. According to records of the time, Saint Martin had vines planted on the hillsides of Vouvray. Later, in 582, Bishop Gregory of Tours wrote about the flourishing vineyards of Sancerre. By the twelfth century, the vineyards of the central region had been widely developed, largely thanks to the efforts of the monastic establishments of the region. In fact, before the English acquired neighboring Bordeaux, the Loire was France’s main wine producing region.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Dutch played a major role in the development of the Loire wine industry. They were largely responsible for the canalization of the tributaries of the River Loire. It was also the Dutch who introduced white grapes into this formerly red grape-dominated wine producing region.
Disaster struck during the exceptionally severe winter of 1709 when virtually all the vineyards of the Loire were destroyed. It was not long, however, before the vineyards of the region were re-stocked with vines brought from Burgundy by the monks eager to re-establish a lucrative wine industry. They introduced the Melon vine from Burgundy. This grape today is used to produce the famous Muscadet wine of Nantes.
The Regions
The Loire, a large region stretching the length of the River Loire from central France to the west coast, is divided into four main provinces or sub-regions. Within each province, there are several appellations. The four main sub-regions are: the area around Nantes, Anjou-Saumur, Tourraine, and the Central Vineyards.
Climate and Terroir
Climate conditions vary considerably in a region as extensive as the Loire Valley. Around Nantes, the influence of the sea creates a damp and mild climate, whereas further inland, a continental pattern prevails. Soil, too, varies throughout the region, with chalk and clay being predominant. Consequently, different areas grow different grapes. For instance, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, in the east, produce Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Tourraine and Anjou, in the middle, grow mainly Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. The Nantes area, in the west, is best known for its Melon grape.
Main Grape Varieties
White Grapes
Sauvignon Blanc is used mainly in the vineyards of the central region and the eastern part of Tourraine. This grape variety is very sensitive to climate and soil, and the intensity of its zesty, aromatic flavors is largely influenced by the area in which it is grown.
Chenin Blanc, also called “Pineau de la Loire,” is ideally suited to the microclimates of Tourraine and Anjou. It has a tangy, apple fruit acidity and is often used in blends or in the production of sparkling wines. Chenin Blanc also makes superb sweet wines from grapes affected by noble rot.
The Burgundy Melon (Melon de Bourgogne) is used to make Muscadet. It is best suited to the rock-crystal terroir southeast of Nantes. It has a particularly neutral flavor, but when aged “sur lit” on the yeasty lees left over from fermentation, it takes on a subtle characteristic of creamy depth.
Folle Blanche is a lesser rustic vine grown mainly in the Nantes area.
Red Grapes
Cabernet Franc is sometimes referred to as “Breton” because it came originally from the Nantes area. Generally used as a single varietal grape, it thrives well in the area around Tourraine.
Pinot Noir is originally from Burgundy. This is the main grape variety of the central region and is used in the production of red Sancerre.
Gamay, particularly widespread in Tourraine, is also one of the vines that grows well on the hillsides of Giennois and Châteaumeillant. Gamay is used in Anjou as a base for rosé wines.
It is sometimes better to choose a Loire wine by its style rather than by its grape variety. Here are some of the main styles.
Pouilly-Fumé is a dry white wine that has the most body and intensity of all the Loire wines. It is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc.
Muscadet is a dry, light wine produced from 100% Burgundy Melon grapes.
Sancerre is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc and strikes a balance between full-bodied Pouilly-Fumé and light-bodied Muscadet.
Vouvray can be dry, sweet, or semi-sweet and is made from 100% Chenin Blanc.
Sparkling Wine
: Saumur is one of France’s main areas for sparkling wine. Chalky soil, along with cool ripening conditions, produces the type of acid-based wines so suited to sparkling wines.
The Loire is, essentially, a region for classic French flavors that aren’t particularly imitated elsewhere in the world. Although the region’s white wines are more commonly available outside France than its reds, there has recently been a growing worldwide interest in the latter.

Source: http://www.essortment.com/all/loirewinefra_rmnu.htm

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