LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE

By Decanter

01 JUNE 2013

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 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)

Quick links:

- Six of the best wineries to visit

- Where to stay, shop, eat and relax

Introduction:

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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