Along its many twists, turns and tributaries, the Loire River encompasses a multitude of wine styles: white, rosé and red (plus orange nowadays); bone dry though off dry, medium and sweet; still, lightly and fully sparkling; neutral to highly aromatic. After all, at over a thousand kilometres in length, it dwarfs (swamps?) the Shannon (360 km) and Thames (346 km) as it winds through 15 départements.
In some ways the different sub-regions are not that related, especially when it comes to grape varieties, but the key thing the wines generally share is acidity, even in sweet wines – all down to a relatively northern latitude.
The Loir (no “e”) River is a sub-tributary of the Loire (with an “e”) River via the Sarthe River and runs fairly parallel to the north. Close to the city of Tours is the appellation of Coteaux-du-Loir which covers 80 ha and can be used for white, rosé or red wines. Adjoining the top of this area is the AOC of Jasnières which only produces white wines from Chenin Blanc.
Here are a couple of stunning Loir wines from the Nomad Wine Importers tasting:
Domaine de la Bellivière Coteaux du Loir “Eparses Vieilles Vignes” 2013 (13.0%, RRP €46 at SIYPS, ~ €116 in restaurants: L’Ecrivain, Patrick Guilbaud and Ely Wine Bar)
Domaine de la Bellivière was set up in 1995, ad has been run on organic lines since 2005 and was certified as such from the 2011 vintage.
This wine is made from various parcels of old Chenin Blanc vines – and old is really apt here as they are between 50 and 80 years old – mainly planted on clay with flint over “tuffeau” (the famous local limestone).
Natural yeast fermentation is in one to three year old barrels (75%) and new oak (25%). The different parcels are vinified and matured (for at least a year) separately before being assembled to produce the final cuvée for bottling.
This is a deliberately dry wine, still with Chenin’s typical honey notes but also floral and stone fruit aspects. Very fresh and intense!
Domaine de la Bellivière Jasnières “Calligramme” 2013 (13.0%, ~ €137 in restaurant: The Greenhouse)
The Calligramme is made in Jasnières itself so is of course (you have been paying attention, haven’t you?) 100% Chenin Blanc. The vines are from 50+ year old plots which are mainly southerly in aspect, on the slopes (“Coteaux“!) down to the Loir River.
As with all the Domaine’s wines, the sweetness of the final wine depends on the character of the vintage; only in years where botrytis is well developed are the wines left with some residual sugar. In other years – such as 2013 we have here – the wine is dry but intense. Apple, peach and floral notes are joined by minerality, giving the wine a real versatility for food matching.
Also from the Nomad Wine Importers tasting:
- I Wanna Give You Devotion – Part 1 – Domaine des Ardoisières from Savoie and Domaine Tissot from the Jura
- I Wanna Give You Devotion – Part 2 – Domaine Larredya of Jurançon
And finally, the obscure reference in the title of these articles on Nomad’s wines: those of a certain vintage and taste in music (such as myself) might have recognised the allusion to the 1991 dance music classic “I Wanna Give You Devotion” by Nomad!