Vouvray, Montlouis and Touraine wines
By Jim Budd
This Guide was last updated on 21 April 2011
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This catch-all appellation covers most of the departments of Indre et Loire and Loir et Cher with 5,500ha of vines producing a wide range of mainly single varietal wines in all three colours. The largest concentration of vines is in eastern Touraine, especially in the Cher Valley and around Oisly. Still white wine makes up 40% of the production with almost 80% of this being Sauvignon Blanc. Other white varieties allowed are Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Reds account for 45% – more than 60% of this being Gamay. Although the best Touraine Gamay compares very favourably with Beaujolais, the most successful red grape, especially in the Cher Valley, is Côt – the local name for Malbec. There are three supposed superior areas – Touraine-Amboise, Touraine-Mesland and Touraine Noble-Joué that are allowed to add their local names to the generic appellation. Amboise and Mesland make similar wines to the rest of Touraine; Noble-Joué is a unique rosé made from the Pinots – Gris, Meunier and Noir – from just under 30ha south of Tours.
Top Vouvray, especially with some age, is one of the great wines of France. Made from Chenin Blanc grown on 2,170ha just to the east of Tours on clay and limestone soils – some flinty. The style of Vouvray varies enormously from austerely dry to richly sweet. Much depends upon the vintage conditions. In hot years like 2003 much of the wine will be sweet, whereas in years like 2007 most will be dry with just a few demi-secs, which is often cited as the most typical style. As well as still wine, sparkling wine is also made particularly in difficult vintages when the majority of Vouvray will be made into bubbles. Pétillant at 2.5 atmospheres is the local sparkling speciality, although fully sparkling méthode traditionnelle (at 5 or 6 atmospheres) is also produced.
This is the small sister appellation to Vouvray making very similar styles from some 400ha on the opposite side of the river. The vineyards run from the Loire across to Saint-Martin-le-Beau in the Cher Valley. They tend to be on more gently rolling hills than those of Vouvray. An increasing number of pétillants here are made bone dry without any dosage – several of them have no sugar or yeasts added for the secondary fermentation.
Vineyards in the enchanting valley of Le Loir, which runs roughly parallel to the much larger Loire until it eventually joins the rivers Sarthe and Mayenne becoming the Maine, which flows through Angers joining the Loire at Bouchemaine. The appellation vineyards are due north of Tours around La Chartre-sur-le-Loir and amount to just under 80 hectares. The whites from Chenin Blanc are similar to nearby Jasnières, while the use of Pineau d’Aunis makes the reds and rosés decidedly peppery. Gamay and Cabernet are also used for the reds and Grolleau can play a part in the rosés.
The sloping vineyards of the cru of Coteaux-du-Loir just to the north of market town La Chartre-sur-le-Loir face due south. Jasnières virtually disappeared in the 1960s and 1970s but it has now has revived. Made only from Chenin Blanc these minerally, often austere wines range from dry to sweet depending upon the year. The best have a remarkable purity of flavour and will age brilliantly.
This small appellation (532ha) stretches from south of Blois around the château town of Cheverny towards Orléans. The reds are mainly from Gamay and Pinot Noir, although Cabernet Franc and Côt are also allowed. The whites are mainly Sauvignon Blanc with a little Chardonnay and occasionally Chenin Blanc added, while Gamay dominates the rosés. The AC Cour-Cheverny is exclusively for the local Romorantin grape, which produces ageworthy, minerally whites.
Promoted to full appellation status in 2003, this is a small zone that lies between the town of Valençay, made famous by Talleyrand, and the Cher Valley. Similar mix of grapes to Touraine with the addition of Romorantin. Generally these are wines to drink young.
This is another small appellation in the valley of Le Loir between Montoire and the Vendôme. Around 150ha in production and promoted to AC status in 2001. Again Pineau d’Aunis makes the reds and roses peppery with Gamay and Pinot Noir also allowed. Whites are pure Chenin.
Dry rosé that can be made from Grolleau, Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay and Pinot Noir with at least 30% Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon. Although the appellation covers nearly all the Anjou and Touraine areas, it is rarely seen in Touraine with producers preferring to use the Touraine AC.
The Crémant de Loire production area covers the appellation zones of Touraine, Anjou and Saumur. It has similar regulations to Champagne and has to be aged at least 12 months on its lees. The majority of the production is in Saumur. The best sparkling wines in this region are from Montlouis and Vouvray, especially the pétillants.
Red, white and rosé produced over the whole of the Loire region and usually labelled as single varietal wines. After the Languedoc-Roussillon, the Loire is the 2nd largest regional producer of IGP (the former Vins de Pays), 45% of the production being white. The grapes used are mainly Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc with some Grolleau Gris. Cabernet, Gamay and Grolleau Noir are used for reds and rosés. In 2010 the name changed from Vin de Pays du Val de Loire to IGP du Val de Loire and this regional name accounts for 95% of the production with only a few other minor Vin de Pays names in use.
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