French Wine Buying Guide for Loire Valley
Buying guide for Loire Valley: so much more than Sancerre.
If you crave for Sancerre, Vouvray and Chinon, you should buy tickets to go to the Loire Valley. This region wine history started around the same time as its southern neighbor Bordeaux and its eastern one, Burgundy. Remnants of tales and vestiges of buildings dated from the 1st century were found in different part of the region. The most impressive fact lies in the 12th century: Loire Valley Sancerre bested even Bordeaux in term of export to the UK. The regional paradox is that its most prestigious village, Sancerre, focuses on grape varietals that are not really representative of the Loire Valley: Pinot noir for red and Sauvignon blanc for white. In essence, Cabernet Franc represents, and by far, the lead red grape varietal produced in Loire Valley (either blended or single varietal), while Chenin Blanc is the predominant white grape (Vouvray, here we go!). Even knowing this, each sub region can have drastic differences in terms of varietals and styles. For example, on the Atlantic coast in the lower Loire Valley, vintners dedicate their production mostly to Muscadet, also known as Melon de Bourgogne: elegant and refreshing whites, ideal for product fished fresh out of the ocean. In Anjou, you can have excellent sparkling method champenoise called Cremant, along with fantastic value driven rose and all kind of white and red, blended or single varietal. Then, going into Touraine, you venture into the famous villages of Chinon, Vouvray and other Touraine “Chateau sensitive” premium Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Gamay, Chenin Banc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. In Vouvray, only Chenin Blanc wine are granted the Vouvray label and every declination of wine can be made from it: dry still, semi-sweet, late harvest and cremant. Once you reach the most famous of all villages, in the Center Loire Valley, Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, you enter the kingdom of Sauvignon Blanc, with the option of red and rose made from Pinot Noir (only in Sancerre). A fascinating region where wines are crafted in many different ways with a wide range of grapes varietals.
From this region, always looking for farmers with a sustainable approach, we discovered Domaine de la Grange, owned by Bruno Curassier, not too far from Chinon and Vouvray. His selection offers his unique take on wine made with all the notorious grape varietals of Loire Valley: Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Gamay for his red and Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc for his whites. What makes this winery so unique? Beyond its impeccable organic farming technique, Bruno’s family has been safekeeping the original DNA of all his vines from before the Phyloxera pandemic. They retained the original DNA, far from the ones that nurseries provides nowadays: a unique flavors from lost genes.