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Le Chardon

Wine & Wine Tasting in the Loire

What's your tipple?

A visit to the Loire and the Saumur area would not be complete without a visit to at least one of the famous wine houses, and even one of the lesser known as the wines in this region are not particularly well promoted, which seems to be fine with the Parisiens, who seem happy that some of their favourite wines remain relatively unknown to the outside world!

The 20,000 hectares of vines and 29 ‘Appellations’ (AOC’s) of the vine yards of Anjou and Saumur lie in the heart of the Loire Valley which is the third largest AOC wine producing area of France. It is often presumed that the Loire region produces mainly fresh, dry white wines. This may be true for a few areas, but certainly not all of them.

Large quantities of medium-dry and sweet white wines are also produced, along with millions of bottles of sparkling wine The chalky tuffeau subsoil of the Saumur area give the wines their unique character. You can choose from a delicate and tender rosé like Cabernet d’Anjou and Rosé d’Anjou or the drier and fruitier Rosé de Loire and Cabernet de Saumur.

The Cabernet variety of red grape is perfectly suited to the climate and soil of the Loire Valley, producing the seductive Saumur and Saumur Champigny ruby red wines, subtle and lively in their youth with rich red berry aromas. With age their nose and flavours become more complex, as most wines of noble lineage.

Other notable red wines within the region are the Anjou and Anjou Village reds, together with Puy-Notre-Dame reds, the most recent appellation in the Saumur region.

The Chenin grape variety, also known as Pineau de la Loire, gives us the majority of the white wine of the region. It originates in the Loire and is the base grape for a large number of white wines, including white Anjou, Coteaux de L’Aubance, Coteaux du Layon, Saumur, Savenierres, which are some of the more local varieties. Locally, the dry Saumur Blanc boasts either fresh aromas of springtime or the rich complexity of riper fruit.

When the Chenin grape is harvested late a whole new world of flavours opens up in the form of Coteaux de Saumur, one of the great sweet white wines. The greatest of the sweet wines of the region is Coteaux du Layon. This small growing area is some 20 or so kilometres from Saumur and 20 minutes from Le Chardon, the centre being the village of Bonnezeaux.

The tradition of fine sparkling wines has forged the prestigious reputation of Saumur. The pale, almost white, tuffeau stone ensures the alchemy of their natural tendancy to sparkle. Several producers noticed this extraordinary effect at the beginning of the 19th. century and went on to develop the ‘methode traditionnelle’ which incorporates a second fermentation in the bottle. And so Saumur Brut was born, with the more recent Cremant de Loire.

The region has become the second largest producer of sparkling wines, with export markets all over the world. You can discover more detail on the wines of the region on: www.vinsdeloire.fr

 

Sparkling wines - ‘Bubbles’

As stated above, the region has a strong tradition of producing sparkling wines produced in the ‘methode traditionnelle’, which is the way in which champagne is made. For us, it is difficult to tell the difference between these wines and champagne until you look at the difference in the price.

There are a host of producers and many of them are open for tours and tastings. Below are listed just a few of the larger houses in Saumur but you will find that many of the smaller growers in the local area also produce some excellent sparkling wines.

 

Saumur

 

Local

Two of the ones we visit regularly and can arrange tastings at are:

  • Domaine de Vieux Tuffeau – an organic grower who produces excellent white red, rose and sparkling wines
  • Domaine de La Paleine - a large producer of the full range of wines.

 

Other wines

As the crow flies it is 350 kilometres from Nantes to Pouilly-sur-Loire. This is the Loire Valley and along its distance there are vast contrasts in the climate and geology. The diversity of the natural and human factors in the valley has resulted in the cultivation of a large range of grape varieties.

If you wish to venture further than 30-40 minutes from Le Chardon you can reach the vast area that is Muscadet and the area near to Nantes which produces Gros Plant du Pays Nantais or to the east , Chinon, Bourgeuil, Sancerre, Pouilly Fume, Vouvray, Quincy, Cheverny and Touraine.

All in all, just about all you could wish for ………………… if you have the time

 

Le Chardon