by John Dunkerley, January 2018
If you are a lover of wine you cannot find a better place to live than in the Loire Valley. With around 80 different 'Appelation d'Origine Controlé' classified wines there is something on offer to suit every palate and occasion whether it is red, white or rosé, still or sparkling it is all here. Here there is no need to resort to buying from supermarkets when you can visit the vineyard to taste the producers wines and buy at cellar door prices.
An ideal area to choose to live is the department of Indre-et-Loire the capital of which is Tours. The department has so much to offer in terms of lifestyle and in addition to it's wines there are the many famous chateaux within it's borders plus vibrant markets, all sorts of leisure activities, and roads that are a pleasure to drive along.
Amongst the local wines we have Chinon, Bourgueil, St Nicolas de Bourgueil, and Saumur Champigny, all made from cabernet franc. Whilst these wines are often drunk young they also have the ability to age and improve over many years. Rosés are also produced from the same grape and Chinon also produces small quantities of white from chenin blanc.
Just to the east of Tours Vouvray and Montlouis produce sparkling and still whites which can be dry, demi-sec and sweet wines exclusively from the chenin blanc grape.
The Touraine is a large area that is perfectly suited to the production of crisp dry whites from sauvignon blanc, but it also produces wines principally from gamay, pinot noir, côt (malbec), pinot d'aunis and chardonnay.
A little to the west the tourist town of Saumur is famous for it's sparkling wines made mainly from chenin blanc and usually smaller amounts of cabernet franc and chardonnay blended in.
Further downstream the region of Anjou is a chenin blanc stronghold and is home to the outstanding sweet wines of e.g. Coteaux du Layon, Bonnezeaux, and Quarts de Chaume. Then continuing downstream we arrive in the Muscadet region, and these are wines that are well worth rediscovering.
Moving back to the east of Tours we pass through interesting, mainly white wine districts of Cheverny, Valencay, Coteaux du Gienois, until we arrive at Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, both internationally renowned for their high quality whites from the sauvignon blanc. You will also find small amounts of good red and rosé from pinot noir.
If that hasn't whet your palate, the summers here are generally long, hot sunny and dry so what could be better than relaxing outside with a chilled bottle of wine?