Fancy a Sleeping Beauty château with your crottin? Decanter picks some of the food and wine highlights of the central and lower reaches of Loire.
LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE
01 JUN 2013
Loire fact file:
Total planted area: 70,000 hectares (Muscadet, Anjou, Saumur, Touraine); 5,394ha (Centre)
Main grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne (aka Muscadet), Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Grolleau
Production (2011): 4.7 million hl (Muscadet, Anjou, Saumur, Touraine); 310,000 hl (Centre)
A tray of ham hocks smoked over vine prunings sits proudly in the window of a butcher’s shop. Furry-skinned crottins in varying stages of maturation are lined up on the cheesemonger’s counter a few doors along. And then there’s the wine – steely, flinty Sauvignon Blanc. For the food and wine tourist this is not a bad place to be. Sancerre, high on its hill in the eastern reaches of the Loire Valley, rears up above the flat fields and vast forest of Sologne. Vineyards cling to the slopes as the road climbs higher and higher, blue-shuttered houses crowding the summit. It’s a good spot to start exploring this enormous region.
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Loire Valley: Route du Vin
The Loire Valley is the largest source of white wine in France, the second-largest source of AC rosé, and the third-largest source of AC wines generally. Only Champagne produces more sparkling. But nowhere can match the Loire’s range of styles, from light, crisp Muscadets to raspberry-rich Chinons.
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