So the Touraine is what could constitute the central Loire with over 34,000 acres under vine. The majority of these vines will produce wines to be released under the Touraine AOC with red and white equally divided amongst the production. The region encompasses the city of Tours, and lies adjacent to the Saumur. This subregion is the largest within the Loire, with its most notable wine regions being Vouvray and Montlouis.
Red seems to be the dominant – ironically enough (because as consumers in the U.S., Vouvray would be the most notable commune we know, and that is entirely Chenin Blanc) - with the principal grape being Cabernet Franc. The appellations that best exemplify Cabernet Franc are Bourgueil, Chinon and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. The Bourgueil lies on the northern bank of the Loire River, and boasts over 3400 acres of vineyards, entirely planted with Cabernet Franc. The largest of the three, Chinon, lies across the River and boasts over 4400 acres. Higher elevation vineyards in both communes usually produce the richer, dense Cab Francs, while vineyards closer to the river banks tend to produce lighter styles.
The appellations of Vouvray and Montlouis boast wonderful Chenin Blancs, ranging from very dry to slightly-sweet, with even some extraordinary sparklers being made there. Vouvray is the most important commune within the Touraine, claiming around 4400 acres of vineyards. Montlouis, which lies to the south, on the opposite bank of the Loire, offers up terrific value alternatives to Vouvray.
Other AOCs to look for include Coteaux du Loir and Cheverny.
One of my favorite wines from the Touraine is the Domaine Pichot Couteau de la Biche Vouvray 2007. Clocking in at under $16, this glorious white possesses great notes of ripe Golden Delicious apples, golden raisins, hints of salt, smoke and mineral with a note of honeydew melon. Its slightly sweet upfront, but finishes long and dry. It’s a great example of Vouvray.
Later in the week I’ll finish up with Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and the rest of what is often called the Centre region of the Loire. Wednesday I'll have a recap of our in-store tasting with Bruce Neyers and Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants.