This week has been quite demanding. I will not go into details why, but to make the day a bit more cheerful, I started thinking about what kind of wines I want to drink in 2017. And what better to lighten up the mood than thoughts of “the garden of France”, Loire Valley. As mentioned in my forecast for the year, Loire wines are thought to be in high demand in 2017. Poilly-Fume and Sancerre are already well known and loved; however, I see less known appellations like Anjou, Saumur and Vouvray appearing on menus of wine bars and restaurants.
Some basics about Loire Valley: The Loire Valley wine region includes the French wine regions situated along the Loire River from the city of Nantes on the Atlantic coast to just southeast of Orléans in north central France; The area includes 87 appellations including Muscadet, Poilly-Fume, Sancerre, Anjoy, Saumur, Vouvray, Chinon and Bourgueil. The majority of the production is white wine: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne; as well as some red varieties: Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Pinot Noir. Loire is a very diverse wine region. Production ranges from still whites and reds to rosé and sweet dessert wines, as well as sparkling. Cremant de Loire is the second largest type of sparkling wine produced in France, just after Champagne, and I have heard rumours that we can expect some red sparkling wines to come out from Loire in 2017. Among these different wine styles, Loire wines are characterized as fruity and fresh, with crisp flavors-especially in their youth.
The Loire River and its many tributaries play a key role in climate fluctuation and diversity throughout the wine-producing district. Micro-climates are common and highly favorable for the cultivation of the various varietals. As one travels eastward, the climate becomes increasingly continental and temperature fluctuations are more frequent. The climate can be very cool with spring time frost being a potential hazard for the vines. During cold summers it is also a risk that grapes do not mature enough for a desirable sugar level for wine production. Thus, Loire is an area that has high fluctuations in quality between different vintages. 2015 is said to be a good year, especially for Chenin Blanc (and also Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc), as well as 2010 and 2009.
Last but not least about the wine production, and the main reason I believe I will be tasting a lot of wines from Loire this year. While most classic French wines come from blends, Loire Wines are generally pressed from a single varietal. Which is what gives Loire wines their “authenticity”. Additionally barrel ageing is rare, thus, the wines terroir is both noticeable and recognizable upon tasting. For example, a Chenin Blanc from Touraine will feature very different aromas that one from Anjou, and you wont have any oak in the blend to hide the tastes. Love it!
Now that I know the basics, all I need to do is go shopping. Any good suggestions on great wines you have tasted from Loire?