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Friday 22 August 2014

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Trade talk: The Loire Valley

2nd May, 2014 by Lucy Shaw

Wines from the Loire Valley offer an enticing combination of diversity, purity, freshness and food friendliness, according to industry experts.

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One of Europe’s last untamed waterways spanning over 600 miles, the Loire is the longest river in France, and its heart, running from Sully to Chalonnes, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Due to the region’s geological and climatic diversity, every style of wine is made here, from red, white and rosé to sparkling and sweet. While varied in nature, Loire wines share a signature freshness and refreshing acidity, making them approachable and food friendly. With 69 appellations, the Loire is the third largest wine region in France behind Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, producing four million hectolitres of wine and selling 380 million bottles a year. It is also the largest white wine producer in France, with its whites accounting for 60% of exports.

Loire Sauvignon Blanc remains the benchmark for this aromatic white grape variety around the world. In addition to Sauvignon Blanc, other key white varieties grown in the region include Chenin Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne, while Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamay fly the flag for the reds. Loire Valley Wines has big plans for the UK this year and will be organising various consumer and trade events to shine a light on the Chenin Blanc variety, Muscadet, Rosé d’Anjou and Touraine. In addition, it will run a summer promotion with Waitrose in June and July. To coincide with Loire Valley Wines’ UK marketing push, we asked eight key members of the trade for their opinions on the wines from the region and what unique attributes they offer consumers.

While Edgar Bettridge of Enotria praised Loire Sauvignon Blanc’s “elegance and finesse”, Xavier Rousset MS of 28°-50° hailed the region’s Cabernet Francs as “beautiful and very drinkable.”

Gearoid Devaney MS of Flint Wines, meanwhile, flagged up Vouvray’s food matching capabilites, while Belinda Kleinig from M&S sung the praises of Rosé d’Anjou’s “versatility”. All seemed to agree that consumers seeking fresh, foodfriendly, approachable and wallet-friendly wines should look to the Loire.

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