Often called the "Garden of France", the Loire Valley is a special place of vineyards, and rolling green hills dotted with more than a thousand Chateaux. It is perhaps the charm of its gentle pace of life that has, for centuries, made it a sought-after location for poets and writers.
From my own personal experience, the Loire Valley is a very special place. It is the home of a varied selection of wines, many of which I experienced for the first time on my first ever dedicated wine trip to the region several years ago, stopping off at different appellations along the way. Not only did I learn a lot about the wine and the people behind them, I developed many great friendships, which have drawn me to back time and again.
The Loire Valley produces high quality wines in all styles. All the wines, whatever their colour or style, share the characteristics that make Loire Valley wines unique: freshness, finesse and food friendliness.
Without doubt this infinite variety owes much to the region's history, but the soils, peppered with Tuffeau (limestone of which many of the local Chateaux are built), quartz, schist, phthanites, sandstone and more play an important role. The area includes 87 appellations under the Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC), Vin Delimite de Qualite Superieure (VDQS) and Vin de Pays systems.
While the majority of production is white wine from the Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet) grapes, there are red wines made (especially around the Chinon region) from Cabernet Franc. In addition to still wines, rose, sparkling and dessert wines are also produced.
With Crémant production throughout the Loire, it is the second largest sparkling wine producer in France after Champagne. With all these different wine styles, Loire wines tend to exhibit characteristic fruitiness with fresh, crisp flavours-especially in their youth and they match New Zealand's fresh, local cuisine very well.