I LOVE WINE and I LOVE FOOD! Put food and wine together and I am in paradise.
One of my favorite wine regions is the Loire Valley in France. I love it because of its diversity in climate, varietals, and terroir. This diversity allows this lovely region to produce some of the most elegant wines in the world. The wines of the Loire have an airiness and freshness that is unparalleled.
There are 4 distinct appellations within the Loire and they produce a variety of characteristically different wines.
Remember, I love food and the Loire Valley because of its diversity, allows for the creation of a multitude of pairing options – (I am such a foodie).
Let’s take a tour of Loire Valley wines and the foods that go along for the ride.
We will start at the westernmost appellation, a place named Pays Nantais also known as Muscadet.
The Pays Nantais is widely known as the home of the grape varietal Melon de Bourgogne, often called Muscadet. The largest appellation in the Pays Nantais is Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine. This appellation allows for wines to rest on the lees for several months (sur lie) creating a richer, fuller bodied wine. Wines of this region are crisp, light bodied, high acidity with flavors of lemon peel, green apple and minerality. Because of these characteristics, they pair extremely well with oysters, scallops, shrimp, and mussels.
Next, we will move East into the central appellations known as Anjou-Saumur and Tourraine.
Anjou produces red wines, dry white wines, Rose’s, and elegant dessert wines.
The north banks of the Loire river produce one of the most celebrated wines from the region. Savennieres made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes. This lovely dry white pairs well with white meats such as chicken, pork, and light fish such as Grouper, Haddock, Black Sea Bass, or Flounder just to name a few.
Adjacent to Anjou, is Saumur which produces red and white wines. There is a small red wine only appellation, Saumur-Champangny which produces a lovely, unique red wine made from at least 90% Cabernet Franc grapes.
I really love sparkling wine from this area Made in the Methode Tradionale, these lovely bubblies are made from mostly Chenin Blanc grapes but are allowed to have other grapes from the region included.
Saumur sparkling wines can serve as an aperitif or paired with spicy dishes. These sparkling wines also pair well with fresh fruits.
Staying in the central Loire we will move more east on to Tourraine. The highly-acclaimed appellation Vouvray is located in Tourraine. Vouvray is an appellation identified by white wines made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes. These wines are beautiful, elegant, and plush.
Tourraine is also known for Chinon a red wine appellation. The wines by law have to be made from at least 90% Cabernet Franc grapes. I love Chinon because of its elegance. Chinon pairs well with Asparagus, Roast Beef, Smoked Salmon, and Goat Cheese (just to name of few).
Last but not least on our tour of the Loire Valley we find ourselves in the easternmost part of the region. The two most known appellations of the Loire Valley – Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume.
I LOVE Sauvignon Blanc and these two appellations give me the best wines made of 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
Sancerre is located on the west bank and the grapes are grown on chalky limestone. The wines of Sancerre are crisp and have a nice snap, crackle, and pop.
Pouilly-Fume is location on east bank and the grapes are grown on flinty soil. The wines of Pouilly-Fume are fuller bodied and smokey.
Sancerre wines pairs well with green vegetables – yes I said green vegetables. They also pair well with goat cheese and seafood.
Pouilly-Fume pairs well with grilled shrimp, code tuna, and turkey
To sum it up, the Loire Valley is a fascinating wine region with rich diversity. The wines that come from this region give you and me a great opportunity to divest and craft our own delectable food and wine pairings.
Bon Appetite and Cheers!
This was written by our Guest Writer:
Regina Jones Jackson, CSW, FWS, WSET
from Atlanta, Georgia