The Other Side of the Loire - Half Dozen
The Loire Valley offers so much more than just Sancerre, let us take you on a vinous journey to the lesser-known appellations of this region.
Being the first major wine region that many British wine lovers (and drinkers) come across having hopped over the Channel, it’s not surprising that the Loire Valley is pretty well known by many Tanners customers. The Loire is, however, a long river with many small appellations dotted along its banks, and it produces a wide diversity of styles. Moreover, as we have demonstrated in recent years, areas such as Muscadet are seeing a resurgence of interest with young winemakers challenging the norm and bringing new ideas to the table.
This selection therefore pulls in quite a wide range of delicious styles, some of which you might not have sampled for a while. Let’s start by the coast with Muscadet and a reminder that the best ‘Muscadet’ is given more character by being kept ‘on its lees’ (sur lie) which gives it complexity and creaminess. The Bonnet brothers, Remi and Jean-Jacques, make their Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Les Gautronnières from volcanic soils, bringing a more piercing character which makes it outstanding with shellfish.
Many wines from around Anjou are often made pink, with local red grapes pressed just enough to run saignant into the vat. Rosé d’Anjou is a bistro favourite, fitting so well into the heat of the day and a long, leisurely lunch under a parasol. The Chenin Blanc-dominated dry whites of this area are some of the longest-lived and most distinguished of the whole valley. Stéphane and Séverine Branchereau run the 130-year-old Domaine des Forges, their Savennières grown on steep south-facing slopes gets a touch of botrytis to give weight and body.
Further inland you come to the vineyards of Saumur. The traditional method fizz made here, Grand Marque Brut, makes a refreshing change to Prosecco. In nearby Touraine, where Sauvignon Blanc is grown on flinty limestone called ‘silex’, here Philippe Trotignon has been steadily transforming things ever since he took over in 2002 and today has one of the smartest, most impeccably maintained cellars in the entire appellation.
Finally, we’ve included a glorious red from a recent warm vintage. Philippe and Agathe Vatan make delicious reds, from the Cabernet Franc grape at 18th century Château du Hureau. This is a fine effort and should inspire you to try more cracking reds from the Loire Valley.
To explore more hidden gems of the Loire Valley, see Loire