Although it is a trade only event, February sees the Anniversary of the Loire Valley Wine Fair at Angers (49 Maine-et-Loire, Pays de Loire). This is quite significant as it draws attention to the massive improvement in the regions wines in that time – they tended to be rather lacklustre reds, thin acidic Muscadets or horrendous sweet roses.
Now there is a wide range of interesting quality wines available, and even unfashionable Muscadet is now definitely worth another look as younger growers aim for quality rather than quantity. Great Sauvignon Blancs are now available from the Touraine and previously unknown appellations of Quincy, Reuilly and Menetou-Salon – offering better value for money than the often disappointing Sancerre. The Cabernet Franc reds (Anjou, Chinon, Bourgeuil etc) are to my mind still a little austere, but at their best they overflow with rich raspberry fruit which can be a delight. Sparkling wines from Saumur and Vouvray are often excellent, whilst dessert wines from the Coteaux du Layon can be extraordinarily rich and complex.
The Loire is the longest river in France, the last wild river in Europe, and has been designated a World Heritage area by UNESCO. For much of its 630 miles – from the mountains of central France to the coast of Brittany – the Loire is vineyard country, and total wine production makes up the third largest AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) viticultural area in France. It is the largest white wine region in France, and the second largest for sparkling wine.
Our recommendations would include:-
Anjou, Coteaux du Layon – Domaine Leduc Frouin (Martigny-Briand, 49)
Cheverny, Cour-Cheverny from Domaine des Huards (Cour-Cheverny, 41)
Touraine Sauvignon from Domaine Octavie (Oisly, 41)