Vouvray, Savannières, and Touraine: Three AOCs of the Loire Valley to look at for White Wines

The Loire Valley is a large wine region in the northwest of France, strongly influenced by the Loire River, the longest in the country. This region stretches from Sancerre, the most inland area, to the Atlantic in the Pays Nantais; it can be broken-down into sub-regions characterised by different climate, morphology, soils, and grape varieties.

Today, the focus is on three white wines produced in three Appellations of the middle Loire: Savannières A.O.C. in Anjou, Vouvray A.O.C.and Touraine A.O.C. form Touraine.

The Growing Environment

Anjou and Touraine have a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters, but despite being inland they still benefit form a certain moderating influence of the Atlantic Ocean. During the growing season, these two regions experience around 700mm of rainfall on average, and the threat of hailstorms is always there.

The soils are varied and most of them offer a balance between drainage and water retention: clay, limestone, flint-clay, sand, gravel and tuff.

Grape Varieties

Chenin Blanc: this early budding and late ripening white grape variety is very vigorous and can produce high yields. Furthermore, it ripens unevenly, so in order to get high quality wines it has to be picked on several passes, limiting the use of mechanical harvesting. In the middle Loire, several styles are produced: sparkling wines and dry, off-dry and sweet still wines.

Sauvignon Blanc: this vigorous, late budding and relatively early ripening white grape variety is well suited to be grown in cool climates and gives its best on poor soils. The canopy must be carefully managed to avoid shading and therefore, under-ripening, causing an overly green fruit flavour. The harvesting date has to be precisely chosen, as the grapes have to be picked at the right level of ripeness before the acidity drops and the flavours become over-ripe.

Appellations

Savennières A.O.C.

This small but prestigious appellation is located in the Anjou region and allows the production of fully dry wines made from Chenin Blanc. The area’s microclimate provides conditions that allow for the slow ripening of the grapes, so they can gain aromatic complexity and intensity. The best vineyards are on south facing slopes, with shallow soils over schist and volcanic subsoil. The wines are typically very high in acidity with high alcohol and are suitable for ageing. In recent years, producers are making more fruity and approachable styles.

Savannières A.O.C. – Châteaux De Varennes – 2017

100% Chenin Blanc

  • Look: pale lemon.
  • Smell: medium (+) aroma intensity of jasmine, honeysuckle, apple, quince, gooseberry, lemon, lemon zest, wet stone, ginger.
  • Taste: dry, high acidity, medium alcohol, medium body, medium (+) flavour intensity, medium (+) finish.
  • Pairing: monkfish stew with turnips.

Vouvray A.O.C.

This appellation, from the Touraine region, only allows the production of white wines made from minimum 95% Chenin Blanc and has its centre in the village of Vouvray, east of the city of Tours. The best vineyards overlook the river and benefit from sunlight interception and temperature moderation.

The soils are made of limestone and clay, on a tuff subsoil, which provide good drainage, but in the areas far away from the river the clay percentage is higher.

There is a wide range of style in this appellation from still and sparkling wines to dry and sweet wines. Focusing on still wines, dry ones are made every year, with demi-sec in most of the vintages, while sweet wines are rarer.

La Belle Angerie – Vouvray A.O.C. – Demi-Sec – 2021 Châteaux Moncontour

100% Chenin Blanc

  • Look: pale lemon.
  • Smell: medium aroma intensity of jasmine, apple, pear, pear drop, quince, lime, chamomile.
  • Taste: off-dry, high acidity, medium alcohol, medium (+) body, medium flavour intensity, medium finish.
  • Pairing: ham tartine with fig chutney.

Touraine A.O.C.

This is a broad and versatile wine appellation, that encompasses a large area around the city of Tours, connecting several smaller appellations. The Loire River and its tributaries, combined with the diversity of soils (chalk, limestone, flint and clay), allow a wide range of different wine styles. The white wines are mainly made from Sauvignon Blanc, but Chenin Blanc is also used, especially in the western areas of the region.

Touraine A.O.C. – Châteaux De Vallagon – 2021

100% Sauvignon Blanc

  • Look: pale lemon.
  • Smell: medium (+) aroma intensity of grass, green apple, gooseberry, lemon, asparagus and green pepper.
  • Taste: dry, high acidity, medium alcohol, light body, medium (+) flavour intensity medium finish.
  • Pairing: asparagus risotto.

For more information on the wines tasted, here are the producers’ websites: Château De Varennes | Châteaux Moncontour | Châteaux De Vallagon

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White Wine

I live in a stunning and charming land, where wine culture is a pivotal element in everyday life and has been part of the culture for centuries.
I believe that wine tasting, although requiring a certain rigor, should be fun, and above all it has to be a sensory and enriching journey.

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