Most people here probably know that, as a wine region, the Loire valley is far from homogeneous. It can be more accurately described as four distinct regions. Moving from east to west there is the “Centre”, where for whites Sauvignon blanc is king and for reds Pinot Noir; then there is “Touraine”, where Chenin blanc predominates for whites and Cabernet franc for reds with some original grape varieties and combinations appearing in some of its eastern appellations like Cour-Cheverny. “Anjou-Saumur” uses similar grape varieties to Touraine but the whites in particular have their own style. Finally the “Pays Nantais” close to the Loire’s estuary is most famous for Muscadet produced from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. The distance from Nantes to Cosne-sur-Loire (near Sancerre) is about 440 km by road and further by the river because of its long loop north though Orléans with the climate become progressively more continental as one moves further from the Atlantic near Nantes. Here is a crude map of the Loire valley’s principle appellations http://www.terroirs-france.com/vin/loire_carte.htm
The two most similar of these regions are “Touraine” and “Anjou-Saumur” and to many Loire lovers they represent the heartland for Loire wines. In passing I mildly reprove Robin for saying of the Loire “where, of course, most of the wine is white". I hazard a guess that at least as much red is produced as white in Anjou-Saumur and Touraine, although it can be argued that more of the whites from Chenin are truly world class than the reds from Cabernet franc. Even in the “Pays Nantais”, reds are produced, e.g. Coteaux d’Ancenis, while in the “Centre” some producers are getting increasingly ambitious with Pinot Noir reds and some Pinot Noir based rosé is truly celestial.
All this is an introduction to my first Loire white of the month, a chenin derived dry wine from Vouvray in Touraine. In a recent post on a divine Vouvray demi-sec, I threw out the observation that, for me, Vouvray is at its best balanced with some residual sugar and this sec does not make me change my opinion.Vouvray sec 2000 – Domaine du Clos Naudin, Philippe Foreau
– Alc. 13%. The nose showed attractive aromas of wax, fine minerals and white fruit with the usual touch of quince. The palate was bone dry and medium bodied with crisp acidity and a lot of nervous tension in counterpoint to the aromas which continued from the nose and to some rounder and warmer undertones. Length was good and the finish was quite structured with saline notes. I found the wine a touch too crisp and tense to be an ideal pairing for sea bass and sadly I had none of the same region’s goat cheese to hand because I know from experience that would have been ideal; 16/20+.