Vouvray, Montlouis and Touraine wines
By Jim Budd
This Guide was last updated on 21 April 2011
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Le Mont, one of the single vineyards of Domaine Huet in Vouvray. Tours is seen in the distance. © Mick Rock/Cephas
Eastern Touraine is the heart of the Loire Valley – not the geographic middle but the essence of the Loire. Here are many of the most famous châteaux – Amboise, Chambord and the lovely Chenonceau built of tuffeau, the local honey-coloured limestone. It was here that the French kings governed for much of the Renaissance, while cavorting with their various mistresses in the gentle Touraine landscape. The whole area is a classified UNESCO World Heritage site.
With the sole exception of Melon de Bourgogne – the grape for Muscadet – all other varieties grown in the Loire can be found in eastern Touraine. The remarkable wines of Vouvray and Montlouis mark a final glorious flowering of Chenin Blanc close to its the easterly limit. Sauvignon Blanc is widely planted, providing crisp and racy wines costing a fraction of Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre. There are also appealing reds including juicy Gamays, sometimes powerful and age worthy Côt (Malbec) and some Cabernet Franc, though this is its eastern limit. Not forgetting good rosé frequently made from Pineau d’Aunis and sparkling wine – Pétillant, the local speciality, is particularly interesting.
This micro-region lies in part of the Paris basin and the soils are predominantly clay and limestone. Eastern Touraine is a vast plateau sloping very gently westwards from the highest point at the western edge of the Sologne. The plateau is cut by a succession of river valleys – ranging from the Loire and the Cher to small streams. The valley sides and their crests provide, especially those that face south, ideal sites for vineyards. The limestone tuffeau is also great for cellars – either for wine or for building troglodyte homes.
East of Tours the climate becomes a little more continental as the maritime influence declines. Tours is some 210km from the sea. Winters here can be noticeably colder than around Chinon, although summers can be warm and the autumns are often magnificent – saving many a difficult vintage and in certain vintages providing ideal conditions for the production of magnificent sweet wines. Splendid autumns saved both the 2007 and 2008 vintages.
Tours is in the centre of the Loire Valley and a crossroad for routes from the north and south of France with those running east west through the region. By road with the completion in December 2007 of the A85 (Vierzon to Angers motorway) it has never been so accessible. It is 240km from Paris taking 2 hours 20 minutes via the A10 motorway. By rail the TGV from Paris Montparnasse takes under an hour and from Lille via Charles de Gaulle Airport around 2.5 hours. Tours Airport has regional flights plus services from the UK and Ireland. The nearest large international airports are Paris Orly and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Nantes has the Loire’s most significant airport – about 230km or 2 hours 20 minutes’ drive from Tours.
Tours Tourist Office,
78-82 Rue Bernard Palissy, 37042 Tours
Amboise Tourist Office
Quai du général de Gaulle, 37402 Amboise
Vouvray Tourist Office
12 Rue Rabelais, 37210 Vouvray
Tel: 02 47 52 68 73 Fax: 02 47 52 70 88
Vins de Loire (Interloire) information
Interloire is the organisation that promotes the wines of Touraine as well as those of Anjou-Saumur and the Nantes region.
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