Journey through the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is the most diverse wine region in the whole of France, producing exceptional wine with characteristic in numerous different styles. The variety of wines to come from the Loire Valley has grown significantly over the past decade, with more and more varied styles now being produced in the region. From crisp, racy Muscadet, citrusy and floral whites of Touraine, to lemony, candied fruit and honeyed whites of Savennières, there is a wine to enjoy for every occasion from the Loire.

Stretching across 600 miles and 57,000 hectares of vines, the region has over 50 appellations and six IGPs. The Loire Valley is split into five different wine regions where different grape varieties and styles flourish. Not only is it producing superb wines, it’s also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Join us on a vinous journey through the Loire Valley, travelling from the Atlantic and across inland, exploring the variety of mouth-watering wines as we go.

Domaine des Herbagues – Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu AOC – Manoir des Herbauges Vieilles Vignes 2020 – White

£11.99

Luc Choblet

Located in Muscadet, Côtes de Grandlieu to the southwest of Nantes you’ll find Domaine des Herbauges. Originally founded in 1864, third generation owner Luc Choblet then took over in 1980. Luc decided environmentally friendly methods were the way to obtain even more flavour from his grapes and their terroir. Jérôme has since taken over from his father and has produced even higher quality wines.

Muscadet’s premium Côtes de Grandlieu produces particularly fine, expressive whites, especially when they are carefully crafted by the fourth generation Choblet family. The 2020 has intense, crisp lemon and pear freshness with notes of blossom. A fine Muscadet, aged for a year on lees, this is a great match for seafood or risotto.

Luc’s son Jérome also produces a special mature vintage cuvée made from 100 year old vines not to be missed: Domaine des Herbagues – Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu AOC – Herbadilla 2007 – White – £21.00

Tell us about the region this wine is produced in?

“Muscadet offers a great diversity and complexity of terroirs and styles. The Côtes de Grandlieu is a small south appellation in the Muscadet created in 1994. The proximity of the vines to the Grandlieu lake give an average daily temperature of 1.5 degrees warmer than the classic Sèvre et Maine appellation.”

Domaine Gadais – Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie AOC – Domaine Gadais La Grande Réserve du Moulin 2020 – White

£13.49

Southeast of Nantes lays the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine area where the grape variety Melon de Bourgogne

rules. The Sèvre et Maine region gets its name from the two rivers flowing through the vineyards, the Sèvre Nantaise and the Maine.

Father and son team Christophe and Pierre-Henri Gadais’ top cuvée, use only the best bunches from their vineyards. It’s a fine white aged sur lie, meaning it’s left for months on its fine lees to add subtle creamy complexity to the bright apple, pear and floral flavours. Ace with oysters!

What makes this wine diverse?

“Based in Mosnière St Fiacre – at the confluent of the Sèvre & the Maine – we benefit from a great amount of sun for the richness and a great freshness from his position alongside the rivers. The diversity of terroir around those two rivers amazing freshness and minerality to the wine.”

Another great Muscadet option to try is: Famille Bougrier – Muscadet AOC – La Nantaise Réserve 2020 – White – £12.49

Domaine des Deux Vallées – Savennières AOP – Les Deux Vallées Savennières 2018 – White

£19.99

A classic, citrus-zipped, dry Chenin Blanc, from a true specialist and the top appellation of Savennières. The Socheleau family are relatively new to wine, but they’ve learnt fast. Réne Socheleau was an apple grower, but his son Philippe was looking for a new direction. In 2001, they purchased Domaine des Deux Vallées with the proceeds from selling their apple orchards. One of the first things they did was to rip out the plantings of Sauvignon and Chardonnay as they knew is fine wine territory for Chenin Blanc.

Their vineyards lie on two main terroirs (hence the name Deux Vallées). The first is on the slopes between the Loire and the Layon; the second is around the village of Saint Lambert du Latay. Aged on fine lees for six months, this is a rich, rounded, yet intensely citrusy white, with light smoke notes and minerality. A superb dinner party white.

Why is the Loire Valley wine region so diverse?

“The Loire Valley is France’s most diverse wine region, producing exemplary wines in every style, from reds, whites & rosé, still & sparkling, dry to sweets covering 69 appellations, producing 400 million bottles every vintages. 

The Anjou area offers a great diversity and complexity of terroirs and styles. The Savennières appellation offers the quintessential expression of Chenin Blanc. The Appellation is spread over 3 hills overlooking the Loire River.”

Domaine Champalou – Vouvray AOC – Réserve Champalou 2019 – White

£16.49

Producers in Vouvray are renowned for crafting some of the Loire’s most classic whites. The top grape here is Chenin Blanc, a wonderfully versatile variety that has been growing for centuries. The Vouvray appellation begins at the eastern edge of the Tours conurbation and extends through 7 communes on the right bank of the Loire and along the Brenne, its tributary. This is a classic Vouvray from a superb family estate with many Decanter awards to its name. Sweethearts Didier and Catherine Champalou bought half a hectare of vines in 1983 – harvesting their first precious crop three years later. Today they have 21 hectares of Chenin spread across the region, allowing them to benefit from a selection of terroirs and to produce a small range of truly outstanding, largely biodynamic wines.  Made in a refreshing, modern, off-dry style, the 2019 white offers crisp, lemony fruit with irresistible, honeyed, apple notes. Their Réserve white makes a fine aperitif and is even better with shellfish.

Champalou also produce an excellent premium cuvée if you’re looking for a really special wine:

Domaine Champalou – Vouvray AOC – Champalou Le Portail 2018 – White – £23.00

Domaine Bellevue – Touraine AOC – Domaine Bellevue Touraine Sauvignon Blanc White – 2020

£12.99

Located in the Loire’s Touraine region is Patrick Vauvy’s Domain Bellevue Estate. Touraine Sauvignon has long provided an affordable yet authentic and stylish alternative to the Loire’s most famous name wines. And the fabulously fresh wines of Patrick Vauvy are no exception. He took over his family’s estate in 1985, scrutinised every stage of production in the vineyard and cellar, and now makes some of the best wines for miles around. 

This super-crisp white bursts with flavour. Think intense lemon, grapefruit and blossom. Endlessly refreshing, and with a great length too. Loire Sauvignon, without the hefty price tag. Great solo or with seafood.

What makes this style different to others in the region?

“We always try to pick later than most growers in the region to get that extra level of ripeness and tropical richness in his wines. By doing so, Patrick’s Sauvignon is the style of wine that bridges the gap between new world and classic French Sauvignon – the perfect combination of ripeness of fruit with classic Loire freshness.”

Discover our full range of Loire Valley Wines here. Don’t forget to tag us in your wine moments over on Instagram, just use #SundayTimesWineClub and tag @sundaytimeswineclub in your post and stories! Not on Instagram? Join our wine discussion on Facebook.

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