- Q & A
France - Loire
No other area offers as diverse a selection of wines. Mor than 90% of the wine from here is white. Dry wines are produced in the east and west, dessert wines in the middle. The Loir is most famous for the castles along the Loire River which meanders from East to West for 600 miles. As the crow flies, the region is only 200 miles long. For centuries, the Loire was the favorite wine of Paris because it was the closest fine wine producing region to the city, barely 100 miles,
The main Loire areas are:
25,000 acres, 3,000,000 cases. Originally a Dutch province, Muscadet is one of the only French appellations named after a grape, Melon de Bourgogne, a.k.a, Muscadet, as opposed to an area. Grapes are grown southeast of the town of Nantes in the western Loire Valley. Nearly 90% of the owners own less than 5 acres making it a scattered patchwork of growers similar to Burgundy but not as volatile. Muscadet is the only area with a maximum alcohol level, 12.3%. Many bottled sur lie "on the lees" from the cask to retain fresh fruity taste. The Dutch upgraded the vines in the 17th century from poor qualitity whites to better quality reds. The great frost of 1709 wiped out the reds, prompting the planting of whites, specifically Melon de Bourgogne from Burgundy, later known as Muscadet.
70,000 acres. 11,000,000 cases. 25 appellations Best known for the 1,000,000 cases of sparkling wine made here, of which 90% is from Chenin Blanc. Cabernet Franc and Groslot are principal red grapes for rosé. Law also permits up to 60% red grapes in white sparkling wine and up to 20% Sauvignon Blanc which accounts for many differences in both taste and quality. All must be made in the Champagne method. The first sparkling wine was made by a Belgian named Jean Ackerman in 1811. For 37 years he was the only producer. Now there are many. Ackerman Laurance is still the largest.
Anjou Rose´ is made mostly from Groslot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Most not completely dry and very fruity. Soil varies drastically from black slate to white limestone. Cabernet d´Anjou Rose´ best known wine of the region. Made from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was first made in 1905 by wine grower in Saumur named Taveau.
20,000 acres, 3,700,000 cases. Major appellations are Chinon and Bourgueil. The red wine from here is made from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are light and fruity, but some age considerably well. The major white wine is Vouvray. Vouvray elevates Chenin Blanc to heights of grandeur that are incomparable to any other region. It can go from dry to semi-sweet, still to sparkling.
Chalky soils and a cooler climate account for the gunflint, smokey character of Sauvignon Blanc grown here. There are two main areas. Sancerre is 3,700 acres. 500 producers, 400 have less than 8 acres. Usually drunk younger than Pouilly Fume´. 500,000 cases.
Pouilly Fumé is also Sauvignon Blanc. Bigger with better age potential than Sancerre. Pouilly sur Loire is the town. 200,000 cases produced.