Friday, April 10, 2009


In my little “series” on the Loire, I’ve mentioned Muscadet, the Anjou-Saumur, and the Touraine. Now the one with which most of us U.S. consumers are familiar – the upper Loire, or sometimes referred to as the Centre. It is here where some of the world’s greatest Sauvignon Blancs are produced, in communes such as Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, and smaller areas such as Menetou-Salon, Quincy and Reuilly.

The most famous of the communes is Sancerre. Resting on the western bank of the Loire, in and around the town of Sancerre and 14 of its neighboring villages, there are at least 6400 acres of vineyards dedicated almost solely to Sauvignon (Blanc). While there are still small amounts of Pinot Noir and Gamay grown there, Sauvignon is King. There are three terroir types in Sancerre: clay/chalky marl (west), flint (around the town) and gravel/limestone (in between the two aforementioned regions). Each area lends its own special aromas and flavors to their particular Sauvignons, and almost all are aged in stainless steel tanks to show off all the fruit-and-mineral glory of the wines.

Pouilly-Fumé is the appellation, yet the wines are derived from the area in and around the town of Pouilly-sur-Loire. Not to be confused with the village of Pouilly-Fuissé in the Mâconnais in Burgundy, here the region cultivates nothing but Sauvignon. The wines from this appellation tend to be rounder, softer and less aromatic, and the best wines are aged in barrel. These wines tend to be much longer-lived than Sancerre.

To the west, lie the villages of Menetou-Salon, Quincy and Reuilly. These regions produce Sauvignon just as good as the Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, at a fraction of their prices. There are some reds produced in the Menetou-Salon yet again, Sauvignon is King.

One of my recent favorites is a wine from Reuilly, the Domaine des Reuilly “Pierres Plates” from Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. A wonderfully balanced, lively white with lots of flinty characteristics, hints of guava, lime and lemon zest, and just a touch of starfruit. It has become one of our most popular French white wines in the store.

Hopefully, you’ve learned a little more about this glorious wine region, and with some luck, I hope to have enticed you to explore the wines of this great region.

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