France: Loire Valley

East of Tours

Vouvray, Montlouis and Touraine wines
By Jim Budd

This Guide was last updated on 21 April 2011
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Food specialities

White Asparagus: an example of the excellent vegetables and fruit grown in the Loire, known as the Garden of France. A lot is grown in the western part of the Sologne around Contres and Soings on sandy soils. When in season enjoy with a well chilled Touraine Sauvignon or a Vouvray Sec.

Champignons: mushrooms are grown in the many huge underground caves in the region. Bourré in the Cher Valley, just east of Montrichard, is particularly well known for its mushrooms. Different dishes with mushrooms require different wines, so a mushroom cream sauce would be great with a demi-sec Montlouis or Vouvray.

Geline de Touraine: also known as la ‘Dame Noire’, a particularly flavoursome and sought after local chicken. Of similar quality to Poulet de Bresse it needs 120 days’ rearing before it is ready to eat. During the 1970s and 1980s it came close to extinction because it was know longer uneconomic to rear. Happily its fortunes have now been revived.

Rillettes de Porc: a delicious, rough-textured hash of pork conserved in its own fat. Very rich and fatty so requires a high acid wine to cut through it - try a young Touraine Cabernet Franc or Gamay, Vouvray or Montlouis.

Rillons de Porc: cubes of pork, salted and cooked for two hours until golden. Still rich but not so fatty as rillettes and works with any of the local wines – a lightly chilled Gamay is particularly good.

Noisettes de porc aux pruneaux: a classic recipe from Tours for pork cooked with prunes and a Montlouis or Vouvray wine. It should be accompanied by a Vouvray or a Montlouis Chenin preferably demi-sec – even a light moelleux will work.

Andouillette: a large sausage made with pork offal – rustic and very strongly flavoured, can work superbly well with Chenin Blanc, but a red can match too, style depending on whether the sausage is eaten hot (choose a more structured red) or cold (a lighter red or a white).

Pâté de Pâques: from the Berry and Poitou areas, a terrine of pork, veal and hard-boiled eggs, traditionally enclosed in a pastry crust. Ideal with a Sauvignon Blanc, it would also go with a Chenin, a rosé, or a fruity red.

Beurre Blanc: a rich sauce to accompany fish such as sandre (pike-perch), made from a reduction of shallots, wine vinegar and a little wine to which butter is added. Montlouis or Vouvray would be the best choice.

Chèvre: goats' cheeses are widely made in Touraine and are the main type of cheese made here. They come in various forms: Sainte-Maure, in the shape of a small log, is made throughout Touraine, though there is a specific AC St-Maure de Touraine. Pouligny-Saint-Pierre takes the form of a truncated pyramid; Valençay, of a shorter, truncated pyramid; Selles-sur-Cher, a small round, flat disk. Sauvignon Blanc is a particularly good match with goats’ cheese.

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