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Loire Valley Wining and Dining

For the past several months my wine glass and I have been touring a variety of wine regions around the globe. It can be a bit challenging when one is doing it from their living room! So, I was ecstatic when the Loire Valley Wines paid a visit to my home bearing gifts of wine and a sumptuous meal!

The Loire Valley wine region is France’s third-largest winemaking region. It spans 170 miles and is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River, (France’s longest river) in central France. Loire Valley is also called the “Garden of France” noted for its vineyards, floral gardens, castles and historic towns. There are more than 4000 wineries, and 57,400 hectares of vineyards. The vineyards are situated along the river that stretches from the Atlantic coast to north-central France. Diversity in soil composition and climate along this stretch plays a key role in the production and characteristics of the wine. 

The Loire Valley is divided into five sub-regions each with its own characteristic grapes, appellations and styles. There are 51 appellations of origin (AOP) and six protected geographical indication (IGP). Most of the wines produced here are pressed from a single varietal as opposed to most classic French wines that are blended. There are 24 grape varieties in the Loire Valley with the vast majority of production being white wine. The leading white varietals are Melon De Bourgogne, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon. The leading red varietals are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Gamay. My focus today is on Chenin Blanc.

Chenin Blanc (Pineau de la Loire)
This versatile grape produces dry, off-dry, sparkling and sweet dessert wines. “Unlike any other grape except Riesling, Chenin Blanc can be vinified in a range of styles from austere, mineral, and refreshing to rich, honeyed, and sweet, and its versatility surpasses Riesling in that it also makes excellent sparkling wine.”

I received three bottles of Chenin Blanc representing different styles and sub-regions of the Loire Valley. 

These wines were paired with a beautiful dinner prepared by Chef Bernard Bouissou of Bernard’s Restaurant located in Ridgefield, CT. Thanks to Loire Valley Wines, my dinner was ready for curbside pickup in keeping with “safe dining” during COVID-19.  The appetizer was Warm Goat Cheese Salad with mixed greens, caramelized walnuts & pears. For the main course Chef Bernard made a mouthwatering Roast Halibut Filet with carrot risotto, asparagus, sugar snap peas and chanterelle chive sauce.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

La Forcine Vouvray Demi-Sec AOP 2018
Vouvray is located in the sub-region of Touraine and is especially noted for demi-sec, sparkling and sweet wine production.  This particular wine is 100% Chenin Blanc, harvested from soils dominant in limestone- rich tuffeau (a porous limestone that contributes to acidity in the grapes.)  

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

This off-dry wine has intoxicating aromas of floral, candy apple and a hint of citrus. A lush palate of apples, pear, honeysuckle, melon and citrus are well balanced with this mineral-rich and zesty acidic wine. It was a winning combination with the savory goat cheese! Pair with fish, white meat, cream sauces and savory cheese. Or enjoy it as an aperitif!
Alcohol: 12.5%
SRP:  $13

Domaine de L’Echantoir “Terres Blanches” AOC 2018
This 100% Chenin Blanc is hand-harvested from certified organic vineyards in the Saumur sub-region. Vineyards are scattered over limestone slopes and are exposed to a temperate maritime climate. This wine is matured for eight months on lees in concrete vats. 

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Lovely aromas of white flowers, apricot and white fruit lead to a palate of pear, citrus, honeysuckle and a hint of anise with vibrant acidity. This paired well with both courses and I especially enjoyed it with the halibut. Serve with seafood, shellfish, salads and cheese.
Alcohol: 13%
SRP:  $19

Château D’ Epiré Grand Cru D’Anjou 2017 AOC and (Appellation Savennières Controlee)
Chenin Blanc is the only grape allowed in Savennières appellation, which is located in the Anjou sub-region. Grapes are hand-harvested from sandstone shale soil that contributes to the minerality and freshness of this wine. A mild climate and the benefits of south, southwest exposure adds to the grapes’ optimum ripening. 18+-year-old oak barrels are used to age the wine for nine months.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Soft white fruit aromas, citrus, floral, and honey open to succulent flavors of white grapefruit, honeysuckle, peach, minerality and fresh acidity. Aromas persist on the palate through to the finish with a hint of citrus zest at the end. This was a rich and enjoyable wine to drink with both courses. Pair with appetizers, seafood, white meat, grilled veggies.
Alcohol: 13%
SRP:  $24

Thank you to Loire Valley Wines for this special “dining in” experience. My wine glass and I are on cloud nine!

Until next time…



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