An introduction to the Loire

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Jo Locke MW gives a quick introduction to the wines found in the Loire. Video transcript

Video transcript

Hi, my name is Jo Locke. I'm the buyer responsible for Loire wines at The Wine Society, which I have been since I joined in 2004. And even before that, I actually grew up with Loire wines when I was a student many years ago. So, an area that I love, and I love some of the grapes in particular. 

So, the Loire is the longest river in France. It covers a vast distance of just over 1000 kilometres. And inevitably, what you have is multiple different subregions, multiple climates, multiple aspects, and of course, lots of different grapes which are better suited to different parts of the region. 

Some are found much of the valley, some are found in much more specific regions. So probably best known in the Loire are the sauvignon blancs from the Central Vineyards, so Sancerre, Pouilly, Menetou, Quincy, Reuilly and also in Touraine, where there's a lot of sauvignon blanc, including the new appellation Touraine Chenonceaux.

Chenin blanc is the wine that makes the fabulous sweet wines of the Anjoux region, but also dry wines and sparkling wines. And then when you head to the far west, the Nantais region, around the city of Nantes, is the home of muscadet, where the grape is either called muscadet or its proper name, Melon de Bourgogne, which is unique in France.

And all of those grapes produce a really fresh style of white wine, and that's the beauty of the Loire. It's quite far north for viticulture, so even with climate change, you are getting a fresh style of wine, digestible. Generally speaking, lower alcohol, although one or two warm years, the alcohols will creep up a little bit. And the same can be said of the red wines. The cabernet francs in particular, which are behind the well-known appellations of Chinon, Saumur-Champigny, Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. Those are wines that are eminently digestible, generally at lower alcohol levels than wines of Bordeaux further south, for example. 

So, as you can hear, there's a lot to the Loire Valley. There's a lot to learn, lots to discover. It's a wonderful place to go. If you can go there on holiday, please do. I'm sure you won't regret it. But failing that, have a look at our explore pages on the website, where you'll find a lot more information about those different subregions and also all those wonderful grape varieties that give you such diversity and such food-friendly wines that you would certainly enjoy when you're there. 

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