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Mike Knowlden introduced us to different wine styles, grape varieties, and terroirs, helping to identify key aromas and flavours.

The Loire Valley, often referred to as the “Garden of France,” is one of the country’s most diverse and picturesque wine regions. It stretches over 1,000 kilometres along the Loire River, from the Atlantic coast to the heart of the country, encompassing a wide range of climates and terroirs. The Loire Valley is renowned for its wide array of wine styles, from sparkling wines and crisp whites to rich reds and luscious dessert wines. This diversity is made possible by the region’s unique geography, climate, and the dedication of its winemakers.

The wines that we tasted were:

Cremant de Loire – Brut NV / Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc / Raphael Midoir

Touraine – La Chapiniere 2022 / Sauvignon Blanc / Baudry-Dutour

Mauscadet de Sevre-et-Maine – Sur Lie / Melon de Bourgogne / L”Audigere par Jean Aubron.
Classic Muscsadet style grown on 35 hectares / aged in steel / 13%.

Muscadet – Cru Clisson 2020 / Melon de Bourgogne / Domaine Lieubeau

Saumur Blanc – 2022 / Chenin Blanc / Domaine Des Sables Verts
High minerality and acidity, real boldness. Matured part in stainless steel and in part oak which resulted in good balance and finesse.

Jasnieres – Les Rosiers 2019 / Chenin Blanc / Domaine Belliviere
Janieres rests on clay and rock and yields relatively small production at this family vineyard. 10 months aged, soft acidity đź‘Ť light and delicate. 13.5%, ideal for savoury foods or as an aperitif.

Cabernet D’Anjou – Rose 2022 / Domaine du Petit Clocher
Domaine du Petit Clocher is a 4th generation wine producer. Short maceration, quite sweet with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon 50/50 grape mix. Good aperitif wine or perfect with rich foods.

Bourgueil – Avis de Vin Fort 2023 / Cabernet Franc / Domaine Catherine & Pierre Breton – organic and biodynamic pioneer.
The red wines of this region have been cultivated since 14th century and this Cabernet Franc is light but with complex and elegant profile.  Organic production, 3 days maceration and 5 months in the barrel, nice herbs and red fruit undertones.

Chinon – Le Grand Saut 2020 / Cabernet Franc / Domaine Dozon
Domaine Dozon Chinon spans over 12 hectares and the sandy clays gives the wines more tannings, 60/70 of old wines, organic production.

Chinon – Tradition 2018 / Cabernet Franc / Domaine de la Commanderie

Coteau du Layon – Passerille 2018 / Chenin Blanc / Philippe Delesvaux
Underrated but as nice as Sauternes and very good value this Passerille wine has lovely medium dry style. Cultivated over 11 hectares, 30 years old wines, biodynamic production and very slow fermentation.

Key Facts About the Loire Valley Wine Region

More than 3,600 wineries, over 140,000 acres of vineyards, 51 appellations of origin and 6 protected geographical indications, thus making the Loire Valley the third largest French winemaking region.

Major Sub-Regions and Their Wine Styles

Pays Nantais
Located near the Atlantic Ocean, this sub-region is heavily influenced by its proximity to the sea, which contributes to the distinct minerality of its wines.
– Grape Variety: Melon de Bourgogne
– Signature Wine: Muscadet
– Notable Characteristics: Light, crisp, and often with a pronounced mineral finish, Muscadet is particularly famous for its compatibility with seafood.

Situated further inland, this sub-region benefits from a slightly warmer climate. It is known for its diversity, producing both white and red wines, as well as sweet and sparkling varieties.
– White Grape Varieties: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc
– Red Grape Varieties: Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, Gamay
– Signature Wines: Anjou Blanc (Chenin Blanc), Saumur-Champigny (Cabernet Franc)
– Notable Characteristics: Chenin Blanc from Anjou can range from dry and crisp to sweet and luscious. Cabernet Franc wines are typically light to medium-bodied with vibrant acidity and red fruit flavours.

Often considered the heart of the Loire Valley, Touraine is known for its beautiful châteaux and its versatile wines.
– White Grape Varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc
– Red Grape Varieties: Cabernet Franc, Malbec (locally known as CĂ´t
– Signature Wines: Vouvray (Chenin Blanc), Chinon (Cabernet Franc)
– Notable Characteristics: Vouvray wines can range from dry (sec) to sweet (moelleux) and are known for their aging potential. Chinon wines, made from Cabernet Franc, are celebrated for their elegance and complexity.

Upper Loire (Centre-Loire)
This sub-region is the easternmost part of the Loire Valley and includes some of its most famous appellations.
– Grape Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
– Signature Wines: Sancerre, Pouilly-FumĂ©
– Notable Characteristics: Sancerre and Pouilly-FumĂ© are revered for their aromatic intensity, crisp acidity, and pronounced minerality. These wines are often considered benchmarks for Sauvignon Blanc worldwide.

Grape Varieties of the Loire Valley

Chenin Blanc: The most versatile grape of the Loire, capable of producing everything from sparkling wines to dry whites and sweet dessert wines.
Sauvignon Blanc: Known for its high acidity and distinct aromas of green apple, citrus, and sometimes flint or smoky notes.
Cabernet Franc: The primary red grape of the region, producing wines that are typically lighter in body than those from Bordeaux, with fresh acidity and red fruit flavours.
Melon de Bourgogne: Used exclusively for Muscadet wines, this grape produces light, crisp wines with mineral and citrus notes.
Grolleau and Gamay: Often used in rosĂ© and light red wines, contributing to the region’s reputation for fresh and fruity styles.

The Loire Valley is a treasure trove for wine lovers, offering an unparalleled variety of wines that reflect the rich tapestry of its landscapes and climates. From the bracing, mineral-driven Muscadets of the Pays Nantais to the elegant, age-worthy Chenin Blancs of Vouvray, and the world-renowned Sauvignon Blancs of Sancerre and Pouilly-FumĂ©, the Loire Valley’s wines provide endless exploration and enjoyment. This region’s commitment to quality and diversity ensures its place as one of the most important and exciting wine regions in the world.