Earlier this month, National Liquor News was lucky enough to join a group of 30 journalists from nine countries on a journey to the Loire Valley in France, to discover the richness of its wines and its people.

Over the course of five days, we tasted our way through 380 beautiful wines from across the Loire Valley, while meeting the winemakers and learning all about the wines and the rich history of the region.

Discovering the bubbles of Crémant de Loire © Vinenvol

We started with exploring the vibrant bubbles of Crémant de Loire, followed by a boat ride along the Loire River, enjoying a diverse selection of Anjou wines. After this, we learnt about the new Saumur Blanc Geographical Denominations going from the Berrye Fortress to Saumur Castle, through Brézé Castle, before ending the day with a wine pairing dinner celebrating Vouvray and Chenin Blanc.

Enjoying a diverse selection of Anjou wines while sailing along the Loire River © Vinenvol

The next day began with a masterclass on Loire wines from Auvergne to Nantais, discovering the impact of terroirs on the expression of PGI Val de Loire white wines along the river. This was followed by a free tasting of PGI Val de Loire rosé wines and Anjou Cru Chenin Blanc.

After this, we took a deep dive into the Melon Blanc grape variety by learning about the different terroirs and how they influence Muscadet wines. We then made our way to the incredibly unique and iconic estate, Clos Cristal, to learn about the Saumur-Champigny appellation and meet winemakers from the area while tasting their wines (of course).

Meeting winemakers of the Saumur-Champigny appellation

Next up, it was a free tasting of three shades of Sauvignon Blanc (Touraine, Touraine Chenonceaux, and Touraine Oisly) alongside Pineau d’Aunis wines from Coteaux du Loir and Coteaux du Vendômois. This was followed by a masterclass to understand the different expressions of the Côt grape variety of the Loire (also known as Malbec).

Winemakers enjoying a gourmet picnic on the grounds of the historic Fontevraud Abbey

We then enjoyed a gourmet picnic paired with white Coteaux du Loir and Coteaux du Vendômois wines on the grounds of the historic Fontevraud Abbey. After this, we made our way to Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil to learn about the geology of the soils from three different terroirs, while tasting some incredible Cabernet Franc wines.

Winemakers of Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil show us some incredible Cabernet Franc wines © Vinenvol

In the Loire Valley, you can find a little bit of everything, from sparkling, rosé, white, red, sweet, off dry. The wines are bursting with freshness, are highly drinkable and pair perfectly with food.

Pierre-Jean Sauvion, President of the Communications Committee of Vins de Loire chats with Deb Jackson © Vinenvol

Speaking to Pierre-Jean Sauvion, President of the Communications Committee of Vins de Loire, about Loire Valley wines, he put it quite simply, saying: “We’re the best region in the world.”

He said: “You can find a glass of Loire Valley wine for every single hour of the day, and it really is that simple. Because our wines are so diverse.”

Australia is a growing export market for Loire Valley wines and rosé is currently the top export, with Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling the other key varietals already in our market. But there is still a huge opportunity within the Australian market to explore all that the Loire Valley has to offer, including its vibrant reds.

Sauvion says: “Australian people have knowledge about wine and while there is unbelievable wine produced in Australia, it is very different to the wines of the Loire, which is very good, because our wines are very complementary, and every day is a day to discover a different wine.

“The Loire Valley produces the perfect wine for your food, for your weather, just try it, drink it, and you will adopt it,” he says.

Stay tuned for the August issue of National Liquor News for a full report from our trip to the Loire Valley and an in-depth exploration of the wines, history, and people of this incredible region.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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