Loire Valley

In early February I undertook our annual visit to the wine fair in Angers, escaping the snow which engulfed much of the UK during that week.

This is the yearly opportunity for the vast majority of vignerons in the Loire valley to show off their latest offerings to the rest of the world. The early season’s weather in 2008 was not kind, with variously frost, hail and torrential rain all conspiring to reduce the size of the crop and make life uncomfortable for the growers. Sunny and dry weather from the second week in September allowed the grapes to ripen fully. However, to get the best results careful selective picking was required adding further to production costs. The extra work required in the vineyards coupled with reduced production (down 30% in some cases) has put upward pressure on prices, though most growers have worked with us to minimize price increases. The Sauvignons of the upper Loire and Touraine are attractively aromatic, concentrated yet more focused than 2007. Red wines, particularly from Cabernet Franc, display impressive concentration allied to ripe structure. Late October rain did dilute a potentially outstanding sweet wine vintage, but this list contains wines from the superb 2007 and earlier vintages.

We have found several new wines from a number of our best sources to complement the many perennial favourites.

Gordon Coates
April 2009

Pouilly-Fumé

The longest river in France; the Loire flows north for over half its length, before turning west at Orléans and heading towards the Atlantic coast. Just before this deviation the river runs between Pouilly and Sancerre, the two most famous names in the whole valley. Both towns are capable of producing thrilling wines from Sauvignon Blanc but it would be a brave, or possibly foolish, taster who would claim to consistently tell one from the other. It is true that Pouilly-Fumé has a higher proportion of clay-flint soils which can impart a characteristic smokiness to the wines.

Sancerre

Just across the river from Pouilly, Sancerre is so famous that high prices are no guarantee of quality. At a time when so many are tempted to take the high volume route the value of our carefully built relationships with those who favour quality over quantity cannot be overestimated. As the demand for white Sancerre is so high Pinot Noir makes up only a small percentage of the vineyard area but the delicate rosé that it produces is entrancing a growing number of fans. The difficult vintages since 2005 have not favoured the production of red Sancerre. 

Quincy and Menetou-Salon

Quincy and Menetou-Salon both have their own history and character. In 1936, rather surprisingly, Quincy, just north-west of Bourges, became only the second Appellation Controlée in France, after the example of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. From plantings on lighter, sandier soils, and with a slightly warmer climate than at Sancerre, wines from Quincy tend to be creamier and softer. The appellation of Menetou-Salon, spread out along a range of hills to the north-east of Bourges, is contiguous with Sancerre. Among Charolais pastures and cereals, the vineyards lie largely on south-facing slopes, all on calcareous, Kimeridgian clay.

Touraine Amboise

Touraine Amboise is a very small appellation - only 220 hectares - either side of the Loire east of Tours. Two thirds is planted to red varieties, which thrive on the clay and limestone soils.

Saint Nicolas de Bourgeuil and Chinon

Just before the town of Saumur as the Loire flows towards the west is the source of many of the best red wines in the valley. Saint Nicolas lies on the north bank whilst Chinon is to the south of the river, both producing wines from Cabernet Franc in styles from light and early drinking to more full-bodied, structured and age worthy.

Anjou-Saumur

As the river flows west from Touraine, Chenin takes over from Sauvignon Blanc for whites, supplemented by the Cabernet varieties for reds and rosés, This area south of the town of Angers produces the vast quantities needed to fill supermarket shelves, alongside rare and sought after treats such as Savennières and Quarts de Chaume.

Our Loire Valley Wines

Les Chardons, Sauvignon Blanc, IGP Val de Loire, 2019

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Les Chardons, Sauvignon Blanc, IGP Val de Loire, 2019

Honest Loire SB at a fair price. Surprisingly tropical aroma. From the second hot vintage in a...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourWhite

ABV13%

Bottle75cl

CodeAUM319

GrapeSauvignon Blanc

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Cherrier Père et fils, Sancerre, 2019

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Cherrier Père et fils, Sancerre, 2019

The latest vintage of this Loire classic from the Cherrier family in Verdigny is as crisp and...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourWhite

ABV13.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeROS119

GrapeSauvignon Blanc

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Domaine des Forges, Coteaux du Layon, 1er Cru Chaume, Les Onnis, 2016

From a steep, grassed vineyard beside Quarts de Chaume and near the river, so open to botrytis;...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourWhite

ABV11.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeFOR216

GrapeChenin Blanc

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Francis Blanchet, Pouilly-Fumé, Les Pernets, 2019

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Francis Blanchet, Pouilly-Fumé, Les Pernets, 2019

The Blanchet's wine is so authentic, true to the appellation, with real bite and stony...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourWhite

ABV13.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeBLA119

GrapeSauvignon Blanc

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Domaine de l'Aumonier, Touraine Sauvignon, 2019

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Domaine de l'Aumonier, Touraine Sauvignon, 2019

From organically farmed vines, this is a long-established best-seller here, admired for its...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourWhite

ABV13.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeAUM119

GrapeSauvignon Blanc

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Forges, Anjou Blanc, L'Audace, 2019

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Forges, Anjou Blanc, L'Audace, 2019

This is a wine from a humble appellation but ambitiously crafted: the vineyard is managed for...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourWhite

ABV14%

Bottle75cl

CodeFOR419

GrapeChenin Blanc

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Domaine des Forges, Anjou Rouge, 2019

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Domaine des Forges, Anjou Rouge, 2019

Pure Cabernet Franc, unoaked. Lively, juicy and energetic - we enjoy this wine for its honest,...

Our Rating

Light > Full

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourRed

ABV12.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeFOR119

GrapeCabernet Franc

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Domaine de la Guilloterie, Saumur Blanc, Les Perruches, 2018

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Domaine de la Guilloterie, Saumur Blanc, Les Perruches, 2018

We thought the last vintage of this barrel-fermented Saumur Blanc from 50 year old vines was...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourWhite

ABV13.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeGUL618

GrapeChenin Blanc

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Domaine de la Guilloterie, Saumur-Champigny, Tradition, 2018

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Domaine de la Guilloterie, Saumur-Champigny, Tradition, 2018

Unoaked, enticingly dramatic purple, with a perfume made up of berries and roses, this is...

Our Rating

Light > Full

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourRed

ABV14%

Bottle75cl

CodeGUL318

GrapeCabernet Franc

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Cherrier Père et fils, Sancerre, L'Essentiel, 2018

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Cherrier Père et fils, Sancerre, L'Essentiel, 2018

L'Essentiel is a selection from a vineyard farmed bio-dynamically, made naturally, left...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourWhite

ABV13.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeROS418

GrapeSauvignon Blanc

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Forges, Chardonnay, IGP Val de Loire, 2019

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Forges, Chardonnay, IGP Val de Loire, 2019

A decent Chardonnay from the Loire would have been unthinkable a generation ago - yet...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourWhite

ABV13.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeFOR819

GrapeChardonnay

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Francis Blanchet, Pouilly-Fumé, Silice, 2019

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Francis Blanchet, Pouilly-Fumé, Silice, 2019

 From a small block on very flinty soils in the heart of the appellation, this is an intense...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginFrance

RegionLoire

ColourWhite

ABV13.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeBLA219

GrapeSauvignon Blanc

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