french wine

The Loire Valley



The Loire Valley is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France.



The area of the Loire Valley comprises about 800 square kilometers (310 sq mi). It is referred to as the Cradle of the French and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards, and artichoke, and asparagus fields, which line the banks of the river. Notable for its historic towns, architecture, and wines, the valley has been inhabited since the Middle Paleolithic period.

 

The Loire Valley is the heart of France, famous for its natural beauty, magnificent châteaux and great wine. The region is rich in history and culture: Renaissance writer Rabelais was born here; Joan of Arc led French troops to victory in the Hundred Years’ War in the Loire; and, as the Cradle of the French Language, its residents speak the purest French.

 

The Loire Valley contains several distinct wine regions, each with its own characteristic grapes, appellations and styles.
 

The largest, and one of the coolest, wine regions of France also happens to produce some of the most approachable wines in the world. The wines of the Loire Valley burst with character and complexity. Each of the white wines of the regions combines citrus, stone fruit, and tropical fruit, with earthiness, and smokiness, that demonstrate the importance that soil and terroir have on wine in Loire.

 

Most of the wineries in Loire are family owned and operated, some have been farming their vineyards since before the French Revolution in the late 1700s, growing their produce for either the nobility or the church. Pre-Revolution one of the most humble jobs in France was that of a winemaker. After the revolution, these became prized positions. Individual winemakers may not have held historical notoriety in the region, however the wines certainly have for centuries.

 

The first mention of Loire wines from Touraine came in 582. But, most notably, the wine earned recognition early on in 1154 when King Henry II, Duke of Anjou and King of England served Loire wines to his Royal English court.

 

Shortly after the Revolution, the vine disease phylloxera hit the region, wiping out most of the historic vines. The required replanting allowed for changes in vineyards, choosing varieties that were better suited for the soils and terroir of the region, while also utilizing cleaner, greener farming methods.

 

Local bistro menus are filled with seafood, pork and beef, salads, fruit like sweet cherries, locally grown grains and mounds of tangy cheese. If you prefer to sip your wine on its own, no problem. The present acidity in the wines keeps them light and fresh, and the ripeness of the fruit keeps them well balanced, making these perfect wines to enjoy on their own.
 

 
 

Top 10 Wines from Loire Valley

 

1. 2007 Haut Poitou Loire Valley Red
A light-bodied blend of gamay, pinot noir and cabernet franc, it's soft, smooth, and
juicy. Perfect with kitchen picnics of cold ham and salad or cheese and chutney sandwiches.

 

2. 2007 Domaine Bailly Quincy 
Dry yet fruity with a warm finish. Try with goat's cheese and red onion tartlets.

 

3. 2006 Domaine André Dezat Sancerre Rouge
Ripe and juicy with fine, silky tannins, it can be served chilled, a great match for langoustine with garlic mayonnaise and green salad.

 

4. 2007 Coteaux du Layon Carte d'Or, Baumard
With honeyed sweetness and hints of fig, this excellent example has fine fresh acidity and is perfect with  soft blue cheeses.

 

5 2007 Fief Guerin Muscadet Cotes de Grandlieu sur Lie
Surprisingly full-flavoured and with a satisfyingly long finish, it demands to be drunk well-chilled with fresh salads or fruits.

 

6. Langlois Crémant de Loire 
Simple wine, but it's delightfully fresh, flowery, creamy and refreshing.

 

7. 2007 Reserve des Vignerons Saumur Rouge
Fresh berry fruit and a smoky edge. Serve at room temperature with roast chicken or lightly chilled with pâté and French bread.

 

8. 2007 Domaine des Liards, Montlouis-sur-Loire
Clean, fresh, apple-crisp, yet lush, un-oaked chenin blanc. Enjoy with a plate of oysters, crab legs or grilled trout.

 

9. 2007 Waitrose Sancerre 'La Franchotte' Joseph Mellot
Citrusy with hints of nettles on the finish. Enjoyed it with cod, halibut and mushroom sauce.

 

10. 2006 Damien Delechenau, Touraine-Amboise, Bécarre
A pure, fresh wine with raspberry flavors. Try it alongside ham, turkey, vegetables and soups.

 
 

Loire Valley grape varieties

Red

 

Cabernet Franc

This is the long established signature grape for the red wines of Saumur and Touraine in the Loire Valley.The wines it produces  are lighter than that of Bordeaux wines. This is due in part to the Loire Valley's cooler climate. These wines have gained a reputation for refreshing, youthful wines that should be drunk early.

 

Gamay

The Gamay grape is the mainstay of rosé wines of the Loire Valley produced in Anjou and Saumur. It is sometimes used in the blending of red wines. There are some wines in the region made entirely from this grape such as ‘Tourraine Gamay’.

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

Although a popular choice throughout the world of vintners this grape variety is not widely used in the Loire Valley. It is added to a number of reds to give them some 'body', plus it is used to produce some rosés.

 

Pinot Noir

This grape which gives us the reds of Burgundy also does well here in the Loire Valley in the light reds of Cheverny and Sancerre.

White


Chenin Blanc

Wines with this grape are the most synonymous with the Loire Valley. With properties  found in anything from the very dry to the sweetest of wines plus it is great for making sparkling wines.
Found in Vouvray, Anjou, Chinon, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Saumur and Savennieres.

 

Sauvignon Blanc

These grapes are responsible for the popular and world famous Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume wines.

 

Muscadet

Grown around the extreme western part of the Loire Valley, as it proved to be the best variety to cope with winter frosts the area is susceptible to.

 

Chardonnay

Used mainly as a blending grape adding richness to sparkling wines and they are sometimes used in Saumur and Anjou whites in a small percentage of the finished blend.

 

 

 

Wine & Longevity

Half a glass of wine a day can add five years to your life

 
Light long term consumption of all types - up to two glasses of beer or wine a day or two shots of spirits - extended life by around two extra years compared with abstention.
 
A 40-year study of almost 1,400 men found drinking a little alcohol regularly boosted longevity - with the biggest increase caused by wine.
 
Light long-term consumption of all types - up to two glasses of beer or wine a day or two shots of spirits - extended life by around two extra years compared with abstention.
 
The benefit was slightly less for those who drank more than this, according to the findings published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
 
Men who drank only wine, and just under half a glass of it a day, lived around two-and-a-half years longer than those who drank beer and spirits - and almost five years longer than those who drank no alcohol at all.
 
The researchers said drinking wine was strongly associated with a lower risk of dying from heart disease, stroke and death from all causes.
 

Human nutritionist Dr Martinette Streppel, of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, said: "Those people who already consume alcoholic beverages should do so lightly - one to two glasses per day - and preferably drink wine.
 
"The cardio-protective effects of alcohol and wine only held up for light alcohol consumption in middle-aged men.
 
"Heavy alcohol consumption may cause accidents and diseases such as cancer and cirrhosis of the liver, even though this was not observed in our study.
 
"Since alcohol consumption can be addictive, starting to drink alcohol because of its positive health benefits is not advised."
 
Previous research has shown light to moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular death.
 
It remained unclear whether a specific beverage was linked with more benefit and whether the use of long-term alcohol consumption increased life expectancy.
 
So Dr Streppel and colleagues studied 1,373 Dutch men born between 1900 and 1920 who were surveyed in detail about alcohol consumption seven times over four decades, following them until death or until the final survey taken among survivors in 2000.
 
Drinking, smoking and dietary habits were analysed along with body mass index and the prevalence of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
 
The researchers found alcohol intake of less than or equal to 20 grams per day - one glass of alcoholic beverage contains 10 grams of alcohol - compared to no alcohol intake was associated with a 36 percent lower risk of death from all causes.
 
When the researchers looked independently at wine consumption, the associated risk reduction was greater. Participants who drank an average of half a glass of wine a day over a long period had a 40 percent overall lower mortality rate and a 48 percent lower incidence of cardiovascular death compared to the non-wine drinkers.
 
Life expectancy was 3.8 years higher in those men who drank wine compared to those who did not drink alcoholic beverages.
 
Dr Streppel said: "Consumption patterns usually change during life. This enabled us to study the effects of long-term alcohol intake on mortality."
 
The researchers found the number of alcohol users nearly doubled from 45 percent in 1960 to 85 percent in the 2000 survey. The percentage of wine users increased during follow-up from 2 percent in 1960 to more than 40 percent among the survivors in 2000. Dr Streppel said a protective effect of light alcohol intake could be due to an increase in 'good' cholesterol, or to a reduction in blood clotting.
 
Furthermore, red wine consumption may have an additional health benefit because the polyphenolic compounds contained in wine have been seen in animals to stop the build up of fatty tissue in the arteries that can result in stroke or heart attack.
 
Dr Streppel said: "Our study showed long-term, light alcohol intake among middle-aged men was associated not only with lower cardiovascular and all-cause death risk, but also with longer life expectancy at age fifty.
 
"Furthermore, long-term light wine consumption is associated with a further protective effect when compared to that of light-to-moderate alcohol intake of other types."
 
 

History of wine in America

 


A short history of wine in America.

 
American vineyards are hundreds of years old, but the U.S. is still considered a newcomer in wine production. The number of North American wineries surpassed 9,000 in 2016, and this growth is expected to continue. With new varietals coming from California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Texas and more, there’s no doubt that American vines are important and are here to stay.

 

Ponce de Leon arrived in Florida in 1513, and was followed by Spanish and French Huguenot settlers who began making wine as early as 1565 with the native American grape, Muscadine.
 
New Mexico established the first vineyards in 1629, when Spanish missionaries planted cuttings of the "Mission grape." Wine came to California in 1769 when the Spanish built the San Diego mission, and then continued to move north with the establishment of 20 other missions, until concluding with the Sonoma mission in 1823.  

California has the most wineries in the U.S. by far. Accounting for about 87 percent of the total U.S. wine production.

 
President Thomas Jefferson attempted to establish a winery and plant vineyards in Virginia in the late 1700s and early 1800s. However, he was not successful due to black rot and the pest phylloxera. Because of this, many of the East Coast and Midwest American wineries still use native American or hybrid grapes, such as the Concord, Niagara, Norton, and Catawba: they are more tolerant of those climates. Brotherhood Winery in New York, for example, established in 1839 and the oldest continually operated winery in America, continues to use some native American grapes, especially Riesling.
 
The geographical range of those early American wineries is wide. The Wollersheim Winery in Wisconsin was originally established in 1842 by Count Harazathy from Hungary, before he headed west to start California's oldest premium winery Buena Vista in 1857.
 
Other notable early wineries:;
 
Stone Hill Winery in Missouri dates from 1847,  
Meiers Winery in Ohio from 1856,  
Renault Winery of New Jersey 1864.  
 
Further south,
Wiederkehr Wine Cellars and Post Famile Vineyards of Arkansas both started in 1880,  
Val Verde Winery of Texas began in 1883. 
 
The oldest continually operated sparkling winery in California is Korbel Champagne Cellars founded in 1882.

 

More wine and US Presidents...

 

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