Luxuriate in some lovely libations from the Loire region | Alistair Gibson
The Loire is not only one of France’s great rivers, it is actually its longest, rising in the Massif Central before finally, some 625 miles later, finding the Atlantic Ocean at Saint-Nazaire.
It was for many years on the edge of the most northerly limit of commercial grape growing for wine and hence it is better known for its white wines as opposed to its red wines.
Although with global warming this may be changing, it is still its white wines that are the staples of many restaurant wine lists in the UK and so with summer in mind here are three classic Loire white wines to try.
Muscadet is one of those wines that seems to have lost its popularity over the last decade but I sense it is slowly hoving back into view again, and why not, after all moules marinière and a glass of muscadet are one of the classic food and wine combinations.
Muscadet is produced at the western end of the Loire around the town of Nantes and made using the little known melon de Bourgogne grape.
There are several sub-regions with in the area but I would head for Muscadet Sèvre and Maine, and Domaine de la Combet Tradition 2019, Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie (slurp.co.uk £9.95) is a lovely example.
There are aromas of citrus and a little tropical fruit along with some yeasty notes on the nose, followed by some breadth on the palate with some ripe orchard fruits and a fresh, crisp finish. All you need now is some crusty bread and a large bowl of moules.
Sauvignon blanc is very much at home in the upper Loire but before you get to the more famous names of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, Touraine Sauvignon Blanc can be a great value wine to look for.
Sauvignon de Touraine 2019, Jean-Christophe Mandard (Berry Bros & Rudd £11.95) is a delicious wine, really fresh with orange peel, citrus and grassy notes on the nose, followed by a lively palate with crunchy, zesty acidity and a mouth-watering finish.
A lovely, more elegant alternative to many a New Zealand sauvignon blanc and it would make a lovely partner to a simple garden pea risotto.
Sancerre is perhaps the most well-known wine in the Loire and it is here that sauvignon blanc gives its most classical expression. Sancerre La Gravelière 2019, Joseph Mellot (Morrisons £20, Eton Vintners £18.25) is from one of the leading producers in the region and this wine is named after the limestone soils on which the vineyards are planted.
The bouquet is instantly appealing with pink grapefruit, orange blossom, freshly cut grass and even a little passion fruit, the palate is beautifully balanced with crisp acidity and ripe citrus flavours and a long finish. This is very much benchmark Sancerre to serve with some fresh shellfish or simply grilled fish.
A ripe, almost sweetly fruity wine, this is gently textured and immediately attractive. Freshness is subsumed into the general richness of the wine, giving a rounded aftertaste.