The Loire valley has begun to break with its long tradition of a single-ranking, single-level appellation system. In 2011 it started to evolve a cru system of appellations.
I recently came across a couple of tasty wines from the almost unknown top (closer to the source) / bottom (in the Massif Central) corner of the Loire valley. The wines were both bottles under cork and screwcap.
Domaine Ogereau is located in the Anjou village of Saint Lambert du Lattay, in the heart of the Coteaux du Layon appellation. Fourth generation Vincent Ogereau took over the family business in 1989
Due south, across the river, of new Loire appellations Roches aux Moines and Coulée de Serrant in Savennières, lies Quarts de Chaume, recently elevated to grand cru status. Claude Papin of Château Pierre Bize explained its origins.
A visit in August to Savennières Roche aux Moines, which is to become an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée/Protegée in its own right from the 2011 vintage, revealed what might be interpreted as something of an identity crisis, with some quite dramatic shifts in philosophy.
If you’re into sauvignon blanc then Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are the names to conjure with, but France’s Loire valley offers many other opportunities to drink wines from this bright and zesty grape variety.
Nearly midway between Angers and Tours, along the middle part of the Loire’s languid length lies its clutch of red wine appellations, and it is the village of Dampierre-sur-Loire, near Saumur, that Château de Hureau has carved its reputation.
Owner Jacky Blot is one of those charming iconoclasts of wine whose passion oozes out of more pores than he possesses. Almost everything he says makes seductive sense even if you don’t actually quite understand it, and one could easily lose days of fascinating conversation and thesis in his company.
Philippe, and his wife Catherine Delesvaux, of the eponymous domaine, make exquisite sweet wine of the highest order in the Loire’s Coteaux du Layon.
The Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine appellation experienced little short of a seismic shift in July with the approval of three Muscadet crus communaux, or communal crus, by INAO. It’s Muscadet, Jim, but not as we know it.