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Feb 2, 2021

Touraine is in the Middle Loire Valley, and it has a myriad of pockets with famed and delicious wines. We give an overview of this region and discuss its most famous areas (Vouvray, Chinon, Bourgueil), which make some of the most distinctive, complex red and white wines in the world.

 

Here are the show notes:

  • Touraine is in the heart of the Loire Valley, half-way between Sancerre and Nantes, 225 km/140 mi from the Atlantic Ocean, and from the northern Massif Central
  • Touraine follows the Loire River for 100 KM/60 miles, and has 5,000 hectares /12,355 acres of vineyards
  • Dry and sweet white, red, rosé, and sparkling wines are all made here
  • The soil is varied, containing three main types:
    • Tuffeau: calcareous rock that produces wines of great acidity
    • Perruche: flint and clay with pockets of gravel, near the river
    • Limestone and clay, with pockets of gravel, near the river
  • The climate is Atlantic in the west, more continental as you move east.

"Thésée-la-Romaine (Loir-et-Cher)" by sybarite48 is licensed with CC BY 2.0. Click here to view a copy of this license,

Grapes

  • White is 59% of production: Sauvignon Blanc (nearly 80% of whites), with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Arbois and Sauvignon Gris, Pinot Gris
  • Red is 22% of production and Rosé is (8%): Gamay makes up more than 60% of harvest, with Cabernet Franc, Malbec (aka Côt), Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Merlot
  • Sparkling -- 11% -- Crémant de Loire

 

The rest of the show is spent on appellations…

The Famed Red Appellations

Chinon

  • Chinon is the biggest red AOC in Loire
  • It is on the western edge of the Touraine district, with multiple soil types, a combination of maritime and continental climates and, as a result, different styles of wines depending on site
  • Reds are of Cabernet Franc (90% with up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) make up 95% of production, with a small amount of whites of Chenin Blanc and rosé
  • Styles: light with red fruit, simple with good acidity or wines with dark black fruit with gamy, campfire, decayed leaf, earth notes and structure, power 
  • Aging: Most are best young, some 10 and 20 years.

Pascal et Alain Lorieux Chinon, Serge Doré Selections (the best Chinon I've ever had!)

 

Bourgueil & St. Nicolas de Bourgueil

  • North of Chinon, these wines are similar to those of Chinon – some are powerful, some are lighter in style, depending on the soil types and sites
  • Nicolas de Bourgueil is within Bourgueil (and can use the Bourgueil appellation) but the soils of this sub AOC are sandy, so the wines are lighter in style with soft tannins, and are meant to be consumed young.

Pascal et Alain Lorieux St. Nicholas de Bourgueil, Serge Doré Selections (the best St. Nicholas de Bourgueil I've ever had!)

 

The Famed White Appellations

Vouvray: Chenin Blanc

  • These Chenin Blanc wines are complex, diverse and varied due to differences in climate (some sites are more maritime influenced, some more continental), soil (some have tuffeau jaune, some tuffeau blanc, some alluvial), and slope direction (depending on tributary)
  • The wines can be dark or golden or very pale, have hay-like notes with apple, honey, citrus, wool aromas and flavors. Textures run the gamut – some are big and soft, some are dry and more refreshing.
  • Still Wines: Lots of sweetness levels – that are not always used on the labels so you don’t know what you’re going to get! Sec, Sec-Tendre, Demi-Sec, Moelleux (sometimes with botrytis). Top wines can age for decades
  • Sparkling: petillant (spritzy) and mousseux (fully sparkling) – neither the fizziness nor the sweetness is always marked clearly

2015 Bourillon Dorléans "La Coulée d'Argent" Vouvray -- what we drank during the podcast, Divine! Also Serge Doré Selections

 

Montlouis Sur Loire:

  • Vouvray’s sister appellation, it is across the river from Vouvray in the commune of Montlouis-sur-Loire, and is based on Chenin. These wines are similar to Vouvray and have the same confusing labelling problems, but also can be long lived, developing honeyed, spicy notes with time (30-40 years)

 

 

The other appellations of Touraine with their grapes are:

Northern areas

Coteaux du Loir: Whites of Chenin Blanc, reds with Pineau d’Aunis (min 65%) with Cabernet Franc, Côt, and Gamay. Rosé can be Côt, Gamay, Grolleau with Pineau d’Aunis

 

Coteaux du Vendomois:  Strangely, this appellation’s grapes are dictated by the percentage of the grapes in the vineyards, not by what is in the final blend. Whites are mainly of Chenin Blanc (80% of vineyards) with 20% Chardonnay. Reds are from Pineau d’Aunis, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, with Gamay. Rosés are 100% Pineau d’Aunis.

 

Jasnières is a small appellation with dry white of 100% Chenin Blanc.

 

 

Touraine District level designations

Touraine is a generic regional AOC but within it are 5 designations with unique wines:

  • Touraine Amboise is rosé and red of Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Côt with whites of Chenin Blanc
  • Touraine Azay-le Rideau is whites and rosés. Rosés are a minimum of 60% Grolleau, with Gamay, Côt or Cabernet Franc. Whites are made from 100% Chenin, and can be sec, demi-sec and sweet
  • Touraine-Mesland is reds and rosés that are a blend of Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt, Whites are Chenin Blanc but may be blended with Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.
  • Touraine-Oisly (wah-LEE) is mainly white with tropical, fatter Sauvignon Blanc that has less minerality and acidity than Sancerre, for example.
  • Touraine Chenonceaux has similar whites to Touraine-Oisly of Sauvignon Blanc and reds of Cabernet Franc (35% – 50%) and Côt ( 50% – 85%)
  • Touraine Noble Joué is a Vin Gris (rosé) of Pinot Meunier (main varietal, minimum 40%), Pinot Gris (minimum 20%), Pinot Noir (minimum 10%)

 

 

Eastern areas

  • Cheverny makes reds, rosé, and whites.
    • Reds are light in style, and are made with Gamay and Pinot Noir with some Cabernet France and Côt
    • Rosé: must be at least 60% Pinot Noir with Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt
    • Whites are Sauvignon Blanc with Sauvignon Gris with Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Arbois (spelled Orbois
    • The area contains Cour-Cheverny, made from the rare Romorantin grape – which is light and aromatic with citrus and honeyed notes

 

Valençay makes whites of mainly Sauvignon Blanc, with Chardonnay, Arbois, Sauvignon Gris and reds mainly of Gamay.

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