No other area offers as diverse a selection of wines. More 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
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
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
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.