I remember camping in the Loire Valley with my mum and dad when I was a kid. I also remember them being terribly interested in the chateaux, vineyards and wines, as well as the need to calculate how much they could take back to the UK duty free. I never found any of this particularly interesting however. Instead, I got more excited about the dark caves that were dotted along the sides of the valley. And for some reason I remember the mushrooms which seemed to be a popular thing to grow inside these caves.
Next time I’m in the Loire, I’ll hopefully pay more attention to the grapes the valley is famous for: mostly white grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Melon Blanc, but also red ones such as Cabernet Franc. The parts of the Loire in which these grapes are grown depend on lots of things but, as always, climate is one of the most important (see Growing section of the website for more info).
The middle sections of the Loire Valley are famous for Chenin Blanc (white) and Cabernet Franc (red) grapes. Wines from these regions often appear on supermarket shelves under the "Vouvray" and "Chinon" labels after the districts in which they are produced (see the Making section of the website for more information).
This week I've updated the various sections of the website to focus on the main grapes and wines of the Loire. In the Drinking section I've given a brief overview of the key flavour and aroma characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc (green apples, gooseberries and grass) and Chenin Blanc, which is sometimes said to have aromas of wet wool (I must say I've yet to get that one). Meanwhile in the Pairing section of the website, I've highlighted some of the foods that typically go well with these wines: tomatoes, asparagus and Thai food (in the case of Sav Blanc) and mackerel, avocado and apple tart with Chenin Blanc, depending on the wine style.
I’m planning to conclude this mini tour of the wine regions of France next week with a brief look at the wines of Burgundy. After that we’ll have a change of scene and move to a different country. As always your thoughts, comments, questions and suggestions are welcomed.