Refreshing Variety of Loire Valley White Wines

The Long Journey of the Loire River
The Loire river winds all the way from Nevers in North-Central France all the way to Nantes where the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The river valley is home to vineyards nearly the entire way. Wines of all sorts are made with an especially wide variety of white wines. Why not take a virtual trip down the Loire River and explore the wines found along the way?

Disclosure: Three of the wines for this post were provided by Loire Valley Wines. The others were purchased because I love Loire Valley wines. No other compensation was involved, all opinions expressed are my own.

Central Loire – Sauvignon Blanc
The dominant white wine grape grown in the Central Loire is Sauvignon Blanc. The wines are typically crisp with refreshing acidity and little or no oak influence. While they show aromas of gooseberry, grass and grapefruit, they are less pronounced than Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand. They are more likely to show mineral and even flinty character due to the characteristic soils found in the area. As most of France, the wines are named for the village they are from with Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé the most well known.

Sauvignon Blanc wines from Central Loire are named for the village, such a Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé

Chenin Blanc in the Heart of the Loire Valley
Chenin Blanc is far and away the most common white wine grape grown throughout the regions of Touraine and Anjou-Saumur. Chenin Blanc is highly adaptable to different wine styles and is made into refreshing dry wines as well as off-dry, fully sweet and sparkling. Beyond Anjou and Savennières, another village to seek out is Vouvray.

Pascal Biotteau “Mary Taylor” Anjou Blanc 2021 is 100% Chenin Blanc

Pascal Biotteau “Mary Taylor” Anjou Blanc AOC 2021 (sample, $16 typical) 12.5%abv
Eye: Pale gold
Nose: Medium intensity aromas of honeysuckle, ripe pear, apricot, honey.
Mouth: Barely off-dry, high acidity medium plus body, medium alcohol, medium intensity flavors, medium plus finish. Flavors of ripe pears, apricots, canned pears, honey, wet stones
Observations: This wine is just off-dry but it has such prominent acidity it gives an impression of dryness.

Château d’Epiré Savennières 2020

Château d’Epiré Savennières AOC 2020 (sample, $23 typical) 13% abv
Eye: Medium gold
Nose: Medium plus intensity aromas of honeysuckle, honey, lanolin, dried apricots, ripe peach, dried orange rind
Mouth: Dry, high acidity, full body with rich texture, medium alcohol, medium plus intensity flavors, medium plus finish. Flavors echo the nose with honey, lanolin, dried apricots, orange rind.
Observations: The wine is dry, but it shows a bit of botrytis on the grapes as those orange rind tones give that impression. This rich white wine would be suitable for pairing with assertively flavored food.

We enjoyed these two wines with a simple meal of grilled walleye, salad and fresh sweetcorn. Both wines were very enjoyable with the meal. The Anjoy Blanc was less intensely flavored and naturally complemented the food. The Savennières took center stage with the food supporting. The Savennières would be a good choice with more assertively flavored food as it wouldn’t get lost.

The Layon River – Sweet Wine Tributary of the Loire
Several of the Loire River tributaries also make important wines near their entries to the main river. The confluence of the Layon River and the Loire has the weather conditions in the fall to support the growth of botrytis, that special grape rot which concentrates sugars and contributes fascinating aromas to wines made from affected grapes.

Chateau de la Roulerie Coteaux du Layon

The sweet wines from the Layon River range from medium-sweet wines suitable for pairing with spicy food to concentrated, intensely sweet wines perfect as apéritif or after dinner. Whether they are just medium-sweet or lusciously sweet, these wines all retain a refreshing acidity so they never seem heavy.

Nantais – Where the Loire Meets the Atlantic Ocean
Who can explain why, but the key wine in this region is named neither by the town, nor the grape. The city of Nantes is the big city in the Nantais region. This close to the ocean the climate is maritime, and the primary grape is Melon de Bourgogne.

Lots of Muscadet wines feature their own embossed bottles

The white wine is labeled Muscadet. There is no town of Muscadet. The only part of the name making sense is the reference to the confluence of two Loire valley tributaries, the Sèvre and the Maine. Melon de Bourgogne is mildly flavored, so winemakers age these wines on their lees for extended times to give texture and aroma to the wines. Hence, Muscadet Sévre et Maine Sur Lie. The wine often implies saline and mineral character with refreshing acidity, perfect for raw oysters and other lighter seafood preparations.

Marquis de Goulaine Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie AOC “Le Puy Ferrand” 2017 (sample, $35 typical) 12% abv
Eye: Medium lemon
Nose: Medium aromas of lemon, underripe pear, quinine, wet stones, hay, salt air, hint of fresh thyme
Mouth: Dry, refreshing medium plus acidity, medium minus body, medium alcohol, medium flavor intensity, medium finish. Flavors follow the nose with fresh citrus and mineral tones.
Observations: Super fresh and feels like you’re at the seaside. Muscadet is perfect with oysters, but it was also super with our cowboy caviar salad with shrimp.

Loire Valley White Wines
The Loire River Valley is white wine lover’s dream. While red wines are also produced here, the variety of white wines available is unmatched and definitely worth exploring further!

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