The Loire Valley
Loire Valley is the 3rd largest wine-producing region in France. From the Côtes Atlantiques to the Auvergne (the point of balance between south and north), the region represents a variety of sweetness and freshness, arts and letters, tradition and modernity. With a temperate climate and remarkably varied terroirs, the greatest diversity of wines in the world is born.
The Loire Valley is a vast wine-producing area in France, grouping together several wine-producing regions. These regions produce dry, semi-dry, mellow or even sweet white wines, red wines that are usually light and rosé wines; no forgetting the importance of sparkling wines. All these regions are located along the Loire and its tributaries, and part of them are located in the Loire Valley.
The vineyards of the Loire Valley cover an area of 70,000 hectares. The production volumes give 4 million hectolitres. It is divided into four production regions: Nantes, Anjou, Touraine and the Centre.
Let’s take a peek into two wider known sub-regions of Loire Valley – Sancerre & Pouilly-Fume
Dominating the Loire from the top of its “piton”, Sancerre was predestined for wine-growing.
In 14 communes, the Sancerre vineyard extends over magnificent hills perfectly adapted to the vine, well oriented, exposed and protected, where limestone and siliceous soils contribute to the marvellous quality of the wines. The two grape varieties that reign in Sancerre are Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The white wines are fresh, fine and fruity, the rosés tender and subtle, the reds fragrant and round.
White Sancerre are fresh and subtle. The aromas of white fruits (vine peach, pear…), citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemon…) and exotic fruits (pineapple…) are mixed with an asserted minerality, expression of the diversity of the soils of the appellation. The supple attack melts into a rich and round mouth.
The red Sancerre wines illustrate the virtues of Pinot Noir. Elegant and fine, they offer delicate aromas of small red and black fruits, ranging from cherry to morello cherry. They are firm, full and long on the palate.
The Sancerre rosés are fresh and greedy. The Pinot Noir reveals aromas of red fruits (raspberry, strawberry…) and white fruits (white peach, pear…).
Domaine Chotard – Sancerre
There have been vignerons in the Chotard family since 1789, but it was in 1992 that Daniel Chotard resumed work at the domaine. The domaine’s vines are situated on limestone slopes in the south-west of the region at Reigny near Crezancy-en-Sancerre, in Loire. In total, the area under vines is 15 hectares, 80% of which is planted with Sauvignon Blanc, with the remaining 20% being Pinot Noir. They farm 40 different vineyard parcels in total.
Daniel Chotard believes the terroir here is crucial in defining his wines. In the vineyard he employs the principles of lutte raisonnée, utilising organic products where and when possible and allowing grass to grow between the vines on the slopes. In the winery, he seeks to constantly maintain and improve his facilities. His aim is to produce a natural wine, true to its origins, with a fine aromatic profile.
For example, for his Sancerre Blanc he carefully selects yeasts that will not influence the natural aromas of wine, so the mineral expression and the character of the grape variety are not disguised. Ultimately, the philosophy of this musical vigneron can be summed up with his own statement that ‘…good wine is made to bring happiness…’.
Pouilly-fumé has been an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) since 1937. Today, a worldwide phenomenon, a large part of the production is sold abroad.
Nestling between Berry and Burgundy, on the right bank of the Loire in the heart of the Nivernais region, the Pouilly vineyard extends over 7 communes and nearly 1,350 hectares, where two grape varieties reign over the vines: Sauvignon Blanc, known locally as Blanc-Fumé, because of the thin layer of slightly smoky bloom that covers the grapes when they are ripe, and Chasselas, which is used to produce the AOC Pouilly sur Loire.