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May 19, 2018

It's a small part of the wine world but one you should know: the Central Vineyards of the Loire Valley, which include Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon & others. Great Sauvignon Blanc, up and coming Pinot Noir, and fantastic rosé. History, soils and dorkiness abound in this podcast, which will make your mouth water and have you running out to get these wines ASAP! 

 

The Central Loire Vineyards: Overview

  • In the center of the Loire Valley, in the heart of France.
  • All of the Central Vineyard appellations are within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of center of France
  • Continental climate with decent rainfall

 

Appellations

Sancerre

  • White, red, and rosé
  • 3 main types of soil in the two appellations:
    • Limestone (known locally as caillottes) – vines planted on white rock 
    • Kimmeridgean terres blanches (clay limestone)
    • Silex (flint) 
    • In Sancerre, the caillottes and terres blanches account for 40% each and silex accounts for 20% of vineyard soils
  • Often steepest vineyards best: Bué, Chavignol, Champtin
  • Producers: Alphonse Mellot, Domaines Fouassier and Vacheron, Lucien Crochet

 

 

Pouilly-Fumé and Pouilly-sur-Loire –

 

  • Pouilly-Fumé only Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pouilly-sur-Loire only Chasselas
  • Soils -- similar to Sancerre
  • Producers: Alexandre Bain, Domaine Didier Dagueneau, Ladoucette

Difference between Pouilly and Sancerre:

  1. Sancerre is a more cohesive appellation,  Pouilly has no clear centre – not touristy
  2. Sancerre has strong leading producers: Alphonse Mellot, Jean-Marie Bourgeois, Denis Vacheron and others, to promote the appellation.
    Pouilly – no cohesion: the late Didier Dagueneau attacked lax practices of his fellow producers. Ladoucette is largest producer is Pouilly -- is an international businessman based in Paris
  3. Pouilly has been lower quality than Sancerre in recent years. Shows promise but Sancerre is better quality and reliable

 

Menetou-Salon

  • Southwest of Sancerre: More gently rolling than that of Sancerre
  • Vineyards more dispersed than Pouilly and Sancerre, more variable 
  • Revival going on now
  • Producers: Pierre and Isabelle Clément, Domaine du Chatenoy, Domaine Philippe Gilbert

 Quincy

  • All Sauvignon Blanc
  • First appellation created in Loire
  • Flattest of the areas, prone to hail 

Reuilly 

  • Dry, crisp Sauv Blanc with some Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris for red and dry rosé
  • Slightly better than Quincy

Coteaux du Giennois 

  • Vines are close to the Loire, mostly on its eastern bank
  • Light-bodied, fruity and crisp, dry Sauvignon Blanc
  • Reds have to be PN and Gamay blend – not good
  • Dry rosé good 
  • The limestone soil is  flinty.

 

Châteaumeillant – only 1% exported,

  • Although included in the Central Loire, Châteaumeillant is apart from the rest - in the northern foothills of the Massif Central
  • Granitic soil (Granite)
  • Specializes in rosé wine known as vin gris, reds from Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes

 

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