It’s the third weekend of the month and the #Winophiles are traveling to the Loire Valley with Gwendolyn Alley of Wine Predator as our host on this virtual tour. She wrote a preview piece about the region here. When deciding what I was writing about, I didn’t focus on the word organic in the title for this grouping of wines. While the Loire has many to offer, my particular wine was not in the category. I looked at typicity and good price/quality ratio instead.
The Loire Valley is such an iconic part of France and such a beautiful one to visit. History, art, amazing castles and the river make it a perfect holiday destination, not to mention the incredible food and wines that are everywhere. The Loire is really separated into four major areas all along France’s longest river, the Loire. The river starts in the Massif Central, eventually flows west, and ends up in the Atlantic Ocean.
While many grapes can be found in the Loire, one white in particular has captured my heart, Chenin Blanc, which in itself can be made into a large number of styles, depending on where and how it is grown. Chenin Blanc has a thin skin and is therefore susceptible to botrytis.
Vouvray comes from the area around the city of Tours, in the Middle Loire, farther East than Anjou and Saumur. A well-known appellation, one can find still, sparkling and sweet wines made here. The wines from across the river in Montlouis-sur-Loire also make these same style wines.
While there are different sweetness levels to Vouvray, it’s very often made in either a brut sparkling or a semi-sweet method. Chenin Blanc’s acidity is one of the reasons that these wines can often stand up well to the ravages of time. Vouvray usually presents lemon to gold in the glass with lovely acidity, ripe fruit and florals on the nose and palate. When done well, it can be a delightful, textured, layered wine with waves of cream, lanolin, biscuit and some oak notes, depending on how it was vinified.
I tried this one for a wine program that I am enrolled it at the Society of Wine Educators. It was a reasonably priced version of Vourvray, less than $15 from the Taub Family Selections but was perfect for my Monday. According to the website, Chateau de Montfort prides itself on the Demi-Sec version of this wine.
The Chateau sits on a plateau made from limestone in the Touraine region and has 75 acres, partly in the Vouvray AOC and partly in the Touraine SOC. There is also calcareous material and clay in the soils and the vine age is 45 years old with some considerably older than that.
I thought this wine with its bright straw yellow in color, quince, cream brioche, and pear aromas and flavors with a touch of grass and earthy mineral notes, was perfect on it’s own or with a fish dish. I made an Octopus and potato dish which went nicely with the sweetness in the Vouvray which offset the smoky paprika I used. I used this recipe.
I have never visited the Vourvray AOC but have spent some nice times in the Loire. When I lived in Dijon in college I visited some of the famed chateaux and since then, I’ve visited a few more and even attended a friend’s wedding in the region.
In addition to the wonderful still and sparkling wines made in the Vouvray AOC, there are sweet wines too. All of these Middle Loire AOC wines are made from the same grape variety, Chenin Blanc, there are many differences between them thanks to microclimates and soils as well as elevation, exposure and the winemaker of course.
The sweet wines are all either botrytis driven wines or they are dried and concentrated on the vine. Generally the wines are not oaked. Many are bottled right after pressing but they may be aged in the bottle before release.
In my experience, the sweet wines can be ethereal and the perfect complement to any dessert or cheese or just on their own.
The last chateau I visited some years ago was Chambord but my favorite one growing up was Chenonceau.
Join us on Saturday, April 17th, at 11 am EDT. You will find us under the hashtag #winophiles. For more information on the wines of the Loire Valley, please visit the official website.
This month, join the French Winophiles as we explore organic Loire. Slated to participate are the following wine writers with these topics:
- Susannah Gold brings “Vouvray – A Wine In Many Styles” to Avvinare.
- Nicole Ruiz Hudson does “Cooking to the Wine: Domaine Huet Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux & Pork Tenderloin with Citrus Gastrique” on Sommstable.com
- Jane Niemeyer suggests “Tasting and Pairing Loire Valley Wines” on Always Ravenous
- Linda Whipple shares “Organic Muscadet and must-have oysters” at My Full Wine Glass
- Terri Steffes invites you to “A Tasty Dance: Red Beans and Rice with Les Parcelles Mark Dupas Sauvignon Blanc” on Our Good Life
- Wendy Klik prepares “East African Fish Stew and a Wine from Loire, France” on A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Andrea Lemieux offers “Pascal Jolivet & Sancerre the Way Nature Intended” on The Quirky Cork
- Cam Mann has “Porc aux Pruneaux (Pork with Prunes) + Chateau de Parnay Le Blason de Parnay 2018” on Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Host Gwendolyn Alley on Wine Predator shares “Unusual Reds at Loire’s Biodynamic Manoir de la Tête Rouge”