Gourmet Food and Wines
The Loire Valley is known as the “Garden of France,” due to the abundance of vineyards, orchards and fields which line the banks of the river. The Loire is home to a large range of distinctive wines, which marry superbly with the wide variety of cuisine.
This is particularly true today, when the culinary world’s focus has turned to cooking lighter and fresher fare. It is in this area that the delicious wines of the Loire Valley excel.
The Loire valley is a large and varied area for wine, from Muscadet country around Nantes in the west, through to Pouilly-sur-Loire in the east, 40 miles upstream from the city of Orléans. There is a wide variety of wine styles in the Loire, with the best-known white being the bone-dry and minerally whites of Muscadet, the equally dry and ageworthy chenin blancs of Savennières, the snappy sauvignon blancs of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, and the generally sweeter white wines (chenin blancs) of the central Loire. In addition, the lovely chalky vineyards of Vouvray and Montlouis that surround the beautiful city of Tours provide both dry and sweet wines from chenin blanc, as well as some truly outstanding sparkling wines. There are also a plethora of white wines gems to be found amongst the less well-known appellations such as Menetou-Salon (incredible wine!), Cheverny, Reuilly, and Quincy, all of which are generally sauvignon blanc-based.
The Loire also boasts some of the most beautiful and complex red wines to be found in France. The majority of these are made primarily from cabernet franc, which generally plays second fiddle in Bordeaux to cabernet sauvignon and merlot, but here cabernet franc is king. Wines such as Chinon, Bourgueil (pronounced bore-goy), and Saumur-Champigny may not be household names to many wine lovers outside the region and Parisian bistros (where Loire wines are ragingly popular), but they are beautiful reds that deserve a place in any wine lovers’ universe. Stylistically the reds of the region represent a synthesis of Bordeaux and Burgundy, as their aromatics and flavor spectrums recall fine Bordeaux, but which are less tannic and rely on their acidities to age in much the same way as red Burgundy. The red wines of the Loire Valley are often irresistible when drunk young.
The wines of the Loire marry beautifully with the cuisine of the region, and are harmonious complements to modern cuisine as well. Often local restaurants will serve fish with a wide array of fresh vegetable-based sauces or purées to push the marriage with local wines. The other world class pairing for these glorious wines is goat cheese and other regional specialties such as pork rillettes. With Loire Valley red wines, Chinon is undoubtedly the best known. Bourgueil tends to be more transparent and accessible when young. Saumur-Champigny is another superb red, with the wines perhaps more red fruity and Burgundian in style than either Bourgueil or Chinon.
We will be happy to give you advice and good addresses for restaurants, wine tasting and shopping.