France: Loire Valley

Central Vineyards of the Loire

The wines of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and their neighbours
By Jim Budd

This Guide was last updated on 23 April 2011
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Food specialities

Crottin de Chavignol: a small AC goats' cheese that takes its name from the small village of Chavignol close to Sancerre (see www.crottindechavignol.com). Crottin can come from a wide area around Sancerre and stretching up towards Gien. A versatile cheese it can be eaten either fresh or at various stages until after four months or so the crottin becomes dried, shrunken and increasingly strong tasting. It is also versatile in cooking from simple grilled crottin salads to La Tourte au Crottin de Chavignol. Local white Sauvignon Blancs are a great match.

Andouillettes de Jargeau: andouillette - a tripe sausage - is a speciality in many parts of the Loire. These come from Jargeau, a town a little east of Orléans, and include 20% - 40% of lean pork. Andouillettes are often served grilled. Try with a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé with a couple of years’ bottle age.

The green lentils of Berry: during the 1980s the Berry used to supply around 70% of the green lentils sold in France, but competition led to a dramatic decline. They were reintroduced in the mid-1990s and there are now around 30 producers. More information including recipes can be found on www.lentilleduberry.com.

Pannequet berrichon: pancakes made from a base of puréed potatoes with flour, eggs, milk and crème fraîche. Served as a side dish, they look similar in form to a scotch pancake.

Pâté de Pâques (Easter pâté): found widely in the Loire region, the pâté is made from a mixture of sausage meat, veal and ham. Hard-boiled eggs are placed along the top and the whole is then encased in pastry. It is widely available from charcuterie shops around Easter. Try with a lightish local Pinot Noir red.

Rognons à la mode de Bourges or rognons à la berrichonne: veal or lamb kidneys served with a red wine sauce with lardons (pieces of bacon), mushrooms and onions.

Walnut oil: walnuts are especially renowned in the commune of Dun sur Auron just under 30km south of Bourges.

Cotignac: quince jelly, made from boiled quince juice and sugar. It is often packaged in a wooden box adorned with a picture of Joan of Arc and from the Orléans region may be called Cotignac d'Orléans. Good eaten with cheese.

Financier de Sully: small sponge cakes made from ground almonds, brown sugar and whisked egg whites.

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