France: Loire Valley

West of Tours and Saumur

The wines of Chinon, Bourgueil and Saumur
By Jim Budd

This Guide was last updated on 19 April 2011
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Food specialities

Fouée: hit bread roll that is filled – treated somewhat similarly to pitta bread – with rillettes, mogettes (white haricot beans) or goats’ cheese. 

Rillettes de Porc: a delicious, rough-textured hash of pork conserved in its own fat. Rich and often quite fatty it is best match with either a Saumur Blanc or a young Cabernet Franc red. 

Rillons de Porc: cubes of pork, salted and cooked for two hours until golden. Still rich but not so fatty and works with any of the young local wines.

Saumon au vin de Chinon: salmon with a red wine sauce made from Chinon. Loire reds are often good matches with fish, especially the meatier types. Best enjoyed with a young light to medium weight Cabernet Franc.

Beurre Blanc: a rich sauce, made from a reduction of shallots, wine vinegar and a little wine to which butter is added, to accompany fish such as sandre (pike-perch). Chenin-based white is a fine match.  

Friture: fry-up of tiny river fish - whitebait - popular throughout the Loire.

Champignons: mushrooms are grown in the many huge underground caves in the region. There are several around Saumur as well as at Le Puy Notre Dame. Different dishes with mushrooms require different wines, for example a mushroom cream sauce would be great with an off dry Chenin Blanc.

Pommes Tapées/Poires Tapées: a very particular specialty of this region and a method of preserving by drying and then compressing apples and pears. They can either served with chicken, duck or pork dishes or as an ingredient for a dessert. The village of Rivarennes in the Indre was the centre of production. The Pommes Tapées/ Poires Tapées tradition died out between the two World Wars but has been revived recently both in Rivarennes and Turquant. See ‘Other interesting shops’.

Chèvre: goats' cheese is made throughout most of the Loire valley. Though it may come in all shapes and forms, the best known and most widely available is the log-shaped Ste-Maure, which should have a piece of straw through the centre to be authentic. Classically the match is Sauvignon Blanc with goats’ cheese but a white from either Saumur or Chinon works well. 

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