The Loire Valley in France offers languid riverside paths for walking and cycling, storybook castles for exploring and staying, forests for hunting deer and mushrooms, gravelly shoreline and hillside vineyards for wine grape growing, deep limestone caves for living, staying, and storing wine, plus lush fields for cultivating vegetables and raising livestock.
The focal point of the valley is the Loire: the longest river in France meanders 625 miles from the south east mountains of France to travel north then west to the ocean.
Along its lengthy path from the mountains to the Atlantic, more than three hundred castles or chateaux line the Loire’s banks with some as old as the 10th century. While only rubble remain in cases, many stand proudly above the rivers as residences or open to the public as Bed and Breakfasts or historic sites like Chateau Chambord, the largest and possibly the most famous of them all.
Built as a hunting lodge for King Francis I, he resided there only about seven weeks in all, but today hundreds visit every hour of every day.
And of course in the Loire you’ll find acres and acres of vineyards, many of them organic, biodynamic, and naturally made wines. Vineyards wine production may have begun as early as the first century with the Romans planted vineyards.
With the Loire so long, it makes sense that the wine region is divided into three sections that embrace the 87 appellations and the range of still, sparkling, and dessert wines. In the Upper Loire you find mostly Sauvignon blanc in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. The Middle Loire has lots of Chenin blanc and Cabernet franc in Touraine (read more here and here), Saumur (coming up!), Chinon and Vouvray (see below). As the Loire finds the Atlantic in the Lower Loire, Melon de Bourgogne reigns in Muscadet.
Most important when it comes to wine grapes, the Loire tempers the cold making it possible to grow grapes in a region subject to spring freezes like this year which has been devastating; many say it’s the worst in decades because it followed warm weather that encouraged bud break.
The Guardian reports that “during a visit to the Loire wine-making area, the French agriculture minister, Julien Denormandie, said it was “an episode of extreme violence which has caused extremely significant damage” (Source). Read more about the frosts in France in L. M. Archer’s article here.
To combat the freezes, wineries employ various wine machines to move the cold air and candles or smudge pots to heat it.
This month, join the French Winophiles as we explore organic Loire, the Garden of France this April for Earth Month. Read the invitation here. Slated to participate are the following wine writers with these topics:
Susannah Gold brings “Vouvray – A Wine In Many Styles” to Avvinare.
- Nicole Ruiz Hudson does “Cooking to the Wine: Domaine Huet Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux & Pork Tenderloin with Citrus Gastrique” on Sommstable.com
Jane Niemeyer suggests “Tasting and Pairing Loire Valley Wines” on Always Ravenous
Linda Whipple shares “Organic Muscadet and must-have oysters” at My Full Wine Glass
Terri Steffes invites you to “A Tasty Dance: Red Beans and Rice with Les Parcelles Mark Dupas Sauvignon Blanc” on Our Good Life
Wendy Klik prepares “East African Fish Stew and a Wine from Loire, France” on A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Andrea Lemieux offers “Pascal Jolivet & Sancerre the Way Nature Intended” on The Quirky Cork
- Cam Mann has “Porc aux Pruneaux (Pork with Prunes) + Chateau de Parnay Le Blason de Parnay 2018” on Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Host Gwendolyn Alley on Wine Predator shares “Unusual Reds at Loire’s Biodynamic Manoir de la Tête Rouge”
All are invited to join our twitter chat at 8am Pacific.
LOIRE INSPIRED MENU
Game and goat cheese as well as oysters are famous in the Loire. Mushrooms and chestnuts feature in many recipes. When we visited, we were surprised to find that in the Farmers Market, you can buy beets already cooked!
- Sue’s Savory organic gouda shortbread crackers (recipe)
- Green Olives
- Organic Pate
- Cheeses: basic chèvre, brilliant savarin, boucheron
- Truffle Brie
- Chard and squash gratin (recipe)
- Beet salad with chèvre and chestnuts
- Venison sausage
- Rack of Wild Elk with mushrooms, chestnuts, shallots, and truffle brie
purchased on sale at Vons in Healdsburg
When we left California for France, visiting Vouvray was a no-brainer: it’s located close to Chateau Chambord where the Blind Wine Tasting Championship was being held, and where we’d be staying for two nights, the night before and the night of the competition.
Palate: Crisp and bright acidity, mid palate has a wonderful mouthfeel. Luscious like creme brûlée, the fruit is a bit muted on the palate as well. Creamy caramel.
All are welcome to participate in our #Winophiles Organic Loire twitter chat. All times Pacific. Remember to include the hashtag #Winophiles.
- 8am Welcome to the #EarthMonth #Winophiles chat on #Organic @LoireValleyWine! Introduce yourself please! Where are your tweeting from? Share a link to your website!
- 805a Over the years the #Winophiles have written about the wines of the Loire. Is this region of France familiar or new to you? Share a link if you’ve written about it before or tell us about a favorite wine or place in the Garden of France.
- 810a The Loire Valley is known as a hot bed of #organic #biodynamic #naturalwinemaking but not all who practice are certified! Was it hard finding wine to fit our #EarthMonth theme? How did you get your wine? Is it certified? Did you go by the winery’s reputation? #Winophiles
- 815a At 625 miles, the Loire River is the longest in France, and so the wine region is divided into 3 parts: upper, middle, lower which are further defined by the wines grown there. What grapes are in your wine and where did they grow? #Winophiles
- 820a April is #EarthMonth and #EarthDay April 22 is coming up soon! Over 25% of wine in the Loire is organic. Tell us more about the #organic @LoireValleyWine you are featuring this month. Pictures? Link? #Winophiles
- 825a How did your pair your #organic @LoireValleyWine? Did you go traditional to the region or inspired by it? Was your food organic also? Link? Pictures? #Winophiles
- 830a According to UCLA’s recent research, #organic and #biodynamic certified wines score higher. Is buying organic food and wine important to you? Why? #Winophiles https://winepredator.com/2021/02/09/ucla-research-organic-biodynamic-wines-score-higher/
- 835a The soils in the Loire include a remarkable limestone called tuffeau that has been used for caves and dwellings. Is tuffeau or another element of the geology or geography important for the wine you are sharing today? #Winophiles
- 840a Did you know the Loire has over 325 castles? And that you can visit, taste wine, eat, and even stay in many of them? Have you been to the Loire? Visited a castle? Tell us more! #Winophiles
- 845a Did you know why the Loire is known as the Garden of France? Do you know why? Did you make any discoveries about the Loire that you want to share?
- 850a Do you have a favorite region, wine, grape, or winery in the Loire? Please share a link! #Winophiles
- 855a The Loire produces the most white wine in France, almost all of the Chenin Blanc, lots of Sauvignon Blanc, and in styles from sparkling to sweet. Will you celebrate #SauvBlancDay May 1 or #CheninBlancDay June 18 with one from the Loire? #Winophiles
Thank you for joining the #Winophiles chat on #organic @LoireValleyWine for #EarthMonth! On the third Saturday in May, join host @jillbarth for #Chablis.