Loving the Loire
Thursday, 22 June 2017

As warm weather returns, I start to think about lighter wines, both red and white. One region that deserves far greater attention in this context is France’s Loire Valley. With its spectacular medieval castles and, as far as wine is concerned, I suspect that most people will think of the Loire as a white wine area. The more familiar wines include Sauvignon Blanc like Sancerre, and Pouilly Fumé, Chenin Blanc, such as Vouvray and Savenniéres, and Muscadet from the western Loire near the Atlantic Ocean (made from Melon de Bourgogne grape). Then there are the grapes. Can you name any of them? The most important red grape in the Loire Valley is the Cabernet Franc – there is also limited production of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Côt (as Malbec is known in the Loire), all deriving a unique character area’s mineral rich soils.

In the Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc is not merely a blending grape – on the contrary, any serious discussion of Loire Reds is going to be mainly about Cabernet Franc. I have recently tasted a 2014 Saumur – Champigny from Domaine Follatreau – it was very smooth with a good fruit balance (best enjoyed a little chilled). This fresh, medium – bodied wine (£13.95) charmed me with its aromas of red berries and a touch of minerality from the lime stone-rich soils. Adding to its complexity is the fact the wine is not filtered and fermented in stainless steel tanks.

On that note, let`s raise a glass to summer and to making the reds of the Loire, a part of your warm- weather dining.