Dorset Food & Drink

Wonderful (and unknown) wines from the Loire Valley

I think my fascination of wine started from a very early age. As a family, we would travel down to the Loire most school holidays. I would be allowed the occasional very weak white wine spritzer and allowed to have a whiff of the wine on any vineyard tours we booked. It’s probably the reason that I am such a Sauvignon Blanc fan – the lively, fuller aromas of a Sauvignon would simply jump out of the glass.

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The enchanting Loire is a wine region in the centre of France, named after the river which meanders through the area – just over 1000kms in length and running from the Ardèche through to the Atlantic. Aside from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, many wine devotees – even today – continue to overlook the region for some reason or another but, once discovered, it makes for a beguiling glass.

It’s the beautiful long river, which is littered with picturesque châteaux, that bookmarks the wine quarters of the Loire; Upper Loire is where you’ll mostly find my beloved Sauvignon Blanc; the mouth of the river is magnificently Muscadet dominant, and everything in between is wonderfully varied. In fact, many different still wines are made in the region plus a sprinkling of sparkling Crémants and some gorgeous, sweet wines too. Many names you may have heard of are Anjou, Saumur, Touraine, Vouvray, Coteaux du Giennois, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.

I’ve selected a handful of suggestions from our shelves that showcase the region well in this month’s column. As always, there’s always so much more to say than the word count allows, but pop along and see us to continue the conversation on one of our favourite regions.

Sample the Loire:

Domaine de la Noë Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie £10 – 100% Melon de Bourgogne grape, this is our ‘go to’ wine for any fish dish, flavoursome and refreshing but without acidity. I have yet to find a Muscadet better for under £10.

Domaine des Gauletteries Jasnieres Chenin Blanc £16 – 100% Chenin Blanc, Jasnieres is one of the smallest appellations in the Loire measuring just 128 hectares. This vineyard is situated directly between Tours and Le Mans. Dry, gentle pear notes rounded off with hints of fresh apple.

Domaine de Montbenoit Coteaux de Giennois £15 – 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Simply stunning, dry and crisp with the gentle acidity you would expect to find. Unlike the New Zealand Sauvignons this isn’t all just a ‘cut grass, gooseberry’ bomb. A lesser known wine that we love here at Vineyards, more elegant in the mouth and a great alternative to a Sancerre or Pouilly Fume.

By: Hannah Wilkins Vinyards of Sherborne

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