The Loire is the longest river in France, stretching some 600 miles from its source in the central plateau to the Atlantic
Ocean in the northwest. Grapes are grown all along the banks of both the Loire and its major tributaries and the area produces red, white and rose wines.
No single Loire wine can aspire to the heights of a premier cm BORDEAUX or to a fine old BURGUNDY, but there are several, especially among the area’s white wines, which are consistently excellent in quality and considerably lower in price than either a good Bordeaux or a good Burgundy.
The white wine of the Loire is considered to be of better quality than either the rose or red and, by general opinion, the best single white wine of the area is Pouilly Fume, a delicate and aromatic wine produced from the Sauvignon grape at the southern end of the river, only a few miles from Burgundy, not to be confused with the other Pouilly, Pouilly Fuisse, an excellent white wine from the Macon area of Burgundy. Of the other Loire whites, Muscadet, produced from the grape of the same name around the Nantes area in northern France, is dry and light and an excellent everyday wine. Sancerre, also produced from the Sauvignon grape, is dry and lively and should be drunk when it is young. In the mid-Loire Valley, Vouvray and Saumur produce both still white wines and sparkling wines. Both are good and relatively inexpensive wines, particularly recommended for fish and shellfish.
The Loire valley produces a substantial proportion of France’s rose wine and although none are taken very seriously by wine connoisseurs, they remain cool and refreshing drinks, somehow rather evoca-tive of summer days and picnics! The ancient province of Anjou produces most of the area’s roses – the better (and slightly drier) wines being marketed under the name Anjou Rose de Cabernet while the cheaper wines are generally sold simply as Anjou Rose.
Only a little red wine is produced in the Loire area, most of it around the Touraine region. Chinon and Bourgueuil, both made from the Cabernet grape, are perhaps the best known. They are light and slightly fruity and should be drunk young.
Loire white wines are particularly excellent with fish and shellfish dishes, although they also complement white meat dishes and salads. The roses make, beautiful accompaniments to most food while the light reds may be served with meat and egg dishes or souffles.