Well, in the last two installments of Terroirist Tuesday, we’ve traipsed through the Lower and Middle Loire. Welcome to the northernmost (and smallest) of the Loire Valley wine regions – the Upper Loire Valley. The area boasts some notable wines, namely Sancerre’s stealthy reds, Pouilly-Fumé’s explosive Sauvignon Blanc. It also kicks some serious caillotes in the rosé department.
That’s right – the Loire Valley isn’t just a pretty face, as in UNESCO World Heritage Sight (Le Jardin de la France, ‘France’s Garden’.) No, it’s smart, and versatile, too. This region chews gum AND walks a mean pace. Hankering for some sur-lie Muscadet or Folle Blanche whites? Check. (Lower Loire.) On the prowl for some ‘let-me-show-you-how-it’s done’ Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc or sparkling sippers? Check (Middle Loire.) Twitching for some sparky Sauvignon Blancs or wait-we’re-not-in-Burgundy-anymore Pinots? Check and check (Upper Loire.) Oh, and just because they can – how about some savor-worthy, under-the-radar Gamays and rosés? Yeah, that’s right – Loire Valley doesn’t just win on looks, so you had best know what you’re about when you come a’courtin. Santé!
Quick Upper Loire Facts:
Location: 150 south of Paris and 70 miles east of Burgundy.
Climate: Continental, featuring the Loire Valley’s largest diurnal and seasonal temperature variations.
Soils: (3) different soil types atop a Kimmeridgean limestone base:
- Terres Blanches (oyster fossils)
- Caillottes (limestone pebbles)
- Silex (flint)
- Sauvignon Blanc: Smokey, gunflint profile.
- Chasselas: Primary regional white grape prior to phylloxera – bright, citrus, floral perfume.
- Chardonnay: In white blends of Saint-Pourçain and 100% Côtes d’Auvergne VDQS white.
- Sacy (locally known as Tressallier): In white blends of Saint-Pourçain.
- Pinot Noir: Only red grape of Sancerre.
- Pinot Gris: Blended with Pinot Noir in Reuilly reds and rosés and Chateaumeillant VDQS.
- Gamay: Blended with Pinot Noir in Coteaux du Giennois and Chateaumeillant VDQS.
Upper Loire AOC’s
- Coteaux du Giennois
- Saint Pourçain
- Côte Roannaise
Upper Loire VDQS’s:
VDQS stands for Vin Delimite de Qualité Supérieure – the French interim level ranking for wines awaiting AOC status. (i.e., Wine Pergatory) This often translates into quality wines at value prices.
- Côtes d’Auvergne VDQS: 100% Chardonnay whites and Gamay/Pinot Noir reds and rosés.
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??Last Week’s Quiz Answers??:
1. The two major grape varietals of the Loire Loire are: Muscadet and Folle Blanche.
2. Bonus Question: Melon de Bourgogne is also known as: Muscadet.
Have a question or comment about Terroir Tuesday? Leave in the comment section below – cheers!