Terroirist Tuesday: Middle Loire Valley

Chinon – Loire Valley, FR
Image: French Wine Society


binNotes begins in medias res this Terroirist Tuesday to talk Middle Loire Valley. For wine enthusiasts, Le Jardin de la France, France’s sobriquet for the Middle Loire Valley, offers more than just gardens.

Fun facts:

Located between the Angers and Tours, this area varies in soils and cultivars, with Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc predominating the latter. Adding to the mix, a confluence of climates – one part Lower Loire’s maritime, another part Upper Loire continental, create a cocktail of seasonal and diurnal swings which translate into red, rosé, and white wines of vivid acidity in all flavors – dry, sweet and sparkling.

Sub-regions within the Middle Loire include:

Anjou: Areas surrounding Angers – ancient soils of schist, clay marls, and clusters of gravel/shale create gripping reds and compelling whites.

Layon: Areas along Layon River (Loire River tributary). Zonally part of Anjou, but separate due to its sweet botrytized (noble rot) wine production.

Saumur: Areas around city of Saumur – high-acid limestone soils with spots of sand conducive to stellar crémant production. Reds planted on sands fashion low acid, low tannic, fruit-forward wines.

Touraine: Areas around city of Tours – a variety of soils, including:

  • Vouvray, Montlouis & Amboise: Tuffeau (porous limestone).
  • Chinon & Azay-le-Rideau: Chalky, sandy, gravely, some clay.
  • Bourgueil & St.-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil: 50% tuffeau, 50% gravel.

Tasting Notes:

binNotes’  Middle Loire Valley tastings include the following:

  • Chinon:  2010 Domaine de la Semellerie Grand Vin Du Val de Loire Chinon Rouge, 100% Cabernet Franc,12.5% Alcohol. $9.99 – Total Wine. Pale purplish-red color, capsicum with hint of graphite, balanced, smooth finish.
  • Saumur: 2007 Domaine du Vieux Pressoir Sparkling Rosé, 13% Alcohol. $19.99 – Laurelhurst Wines. Deep pink, bone-dry stunner.
  • Touraine: Rose d’Orfeuilles Sparkling Rosé, 12.5% Alcohol. $14.44 – Laurelhurt Wines. Pale pink, lacy scene-stealer.

Between luscious bubbles and agreeable reds, the Middle Loire Valley provides a user-friendly entry into a diverse wine region; look for more on the Lower and Upper Loire in future postings. Until next time – thanks for stopping by this Terroirist Tuesday…Cheers!

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