Years ago I sat across an office desk from one of my clients, a well-traveled and enthusiastic man. Outside, it was peak summer…a day not inclined towards offices and work. Our meeting conversation turned, as it often did, to travel.
“You’ll never guess where we are going next. My wife is really looking forward to this one.”
I wasn’t able to guess…other trips had included what is now known as ‘glamping’ in Africa and a stay in a Puget Sound island house with glass walls.”I don’t know…tell me!”
“Biking through the Loire Valley…wine tasting!”
As he described the sunflowers and châteaux (he turned his computer monitor to face me, pointed at the images saved there to remind him of the trip) I wondered if the vacation depicted on his screen was just a fantasy, something from my dreams back when they included transforming into a mermaid and digging to China.
Over the last few months, the French Winophiles have taken the fantasy and made it a reality. We’ve explored the Loire Valley: fresh from the sea in Pays Nantais. Ripe with rosé in Anjou. Historic and powerful in Vouvray. Today we take a look at a Centre-Loire, inland to the extent that it is at the geographic center of France and the upper most fringe of the Loire.
Centre-Loire can’t be accused of being a wine newcomer; grapes have been grown here for over 2,000 years. Sancerre, the home of Sauvignon Blanc of outstanding repute, is located in Centre-Loire. According to Loire Valley Wines, “Lesser known but equally fine examples include and Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Quincy and Reuilly. The region also produces excellent reds and rosé from Pinot Noir in Sancerre, Menetou-Salon, and Chateaumeillant.”
Climatically speaking, Centre-Loire has commonalities with Chablis to the east in Burgundy. Both regions experience sun-drenched days but cooler nights. Other segments of the Loire Valley enjoy sea-influenced climates, but not here. The Centre-Loire can be reached by car from Paris in about two hours, making this region a reasonable day trip from the city…could this fantasy become a reality?
According to Les Vins du Centre-Loire, just under 50% of wines from the area are exported internationally to United Kingdom, USA, Belgium, Germany, Nederland, Ireland. Plantings are largely Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Pinot Noir, Gamay, Pinot Gris and Chasselas. These varietals are often make quite food-friendly wines. The vignerons of Centre-Louire have put together a meal pairing suggestion for summer:
A salad with Chavignol cheese accompanied with a white wine will start summer meals in a very pleasant way.
Summer is the season of grilled meats and fish. The characters of the red and white wines of the region make them ideal for sunny meals, without forgetting rosé wines that will bring spicy touches to exotic dishes (chicken cooked with pineapple, Thai rice).
For dessert, a Poirat (pear pie) or a Chanciau (thick pancake with pieces of apples from St Martin) served with a rosé wine of Reuilly (from the Pinot Gris grape variety) will delight the palate.
The vignerons have also offered first impressions for the 2015 vintage, which are promising:
Grape juices showed excellent purity of flavour, and this is set to be one of the 2015 vintage’s major features.
The whites are full and elegant with complex aromas of white fruit. They are dense and warm, offset by a refreshing tang of acidity.
Red wines meanwhile show an appealing ruby red colour and aromas of red fruit (strawberries, cherries and raspberries) with underlying floral notes. Rounded, silky smooth tannins are testament to good ripeness, and give freshness and elegance.
2015 is an excellent vintage. The wines are already well-flavoured, and, as in any high-sunshine vintage, their youthful character will stay with them for a long time to come.
I’ve discovered that it’s possible, in fact approachable, to make a Loire Valley fantasy trip a reality. Companies such as DuVine curate exquisite biking trips through the area. While I’m not on my bike this morning, I do invite you to join our group, The French Winophiles, on our twitter-chat exploration of the Centre-Loire region:
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “To Sancerre with a Tomato Salad with Parsley & Shallots”
Jeff of Food Wine Click tells us about “The Red-Headed Stepchild of Sancerre”
Jill from L’occasion brings us “Centre-Loire: Fulfilling a Fantasy”
Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog shares “2015 Domaine Franck Millet Sancerre Rose #Winophiles”
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Domaine Daulney Sancerre 2015 for #FrenchWinophiles”
Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva shares “Loire Valley Reds: Domaine du Pre Semele Sancerre” — thanks to Christy for hosting us!
Please join us this morning at 10 CST on Twitter using #Winophiles as we make our final sweep through the Loire Valley.
To experience the other stops on our route visit:
Please join us on Saturday, July 16th as we journey from Loire to Bordeaux in search of the great wines of Medoc. Cheers from the French #Winophiles and au revoir to the Loire Valley!