Most immediately think of the Loire Valley for its famous dry whites and where some of the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc is produced, but many have yet to discover the Loire’s variety of elegant sparkling wines.
One of France’s most varied wine regions, the Loire Valley is also renowned for its production of Chenin Blanc, Muscadet (Melon de Bourgogne), sweet rosé and red wines of Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Côt (Malbec) and it is also the second biggest producer of French fizz.
Sparkling wines from the Loire Valley are famous for their Fines Bulles (fine bubbles) and fantastic for any occasion, particularly during the festive season. Made using the same method as Champagne, but with a diverse range of grape varieties, here’s the lowdown on Loire’s sensational sparklers…
Crémant de Loire
The Loire Valley has a history of producing excellent sparkling wines, including the Crémant de Loire AOC, produced in Anjou, Saumur and Touraine, where a wide variety of climates and soil types allow the different grape varieties used, including: Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Orbois, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grolleau (Noir and Gris), Pineau d’Aunis and Pinot Noir to thrive.
Crémant de Loire is made with the same strict production methods as other crémant across France, using the traditional method, hand harvesting and bottles stored sur latte, (lying on their sides) for a minimum of 12 months to allow for the second fermentation and some ageing. They are best enjoyed during the first year and for up to 3 years.
Perfect for a celebratory glass of fizz, white Crémant de Loire can have notes of lemon, hazelnuts, almonds, with fresh acidity. Rosé Crémant de Loire has aromas of red berries, gentle acidity and can be slightly tannic to the taste. The more structured expressions can be enjoyed with white meats, perfect for Christmas turkey, and the acidity can also cut through creamy dishes. Crémant de Loire also pairs well with seafood and desserts. It’s best served at 6°-8°C in flutes to make the most of the elegant fine bubbles.
Saumur’s stunning château sits majestically above the banks of the Loire, France’s longest river, and is made from the famous tuffeau (limestone), whose soils are perfect for making sparkling wine with excellent acidity. Its rocky slopes provide natural cellars, ideal for ageing the wines.
The Saumur terroir is varied and includes areas of Anjou Noir Shist soils, as well as differing climates influenced by the river. This means that the grape varieties used, including Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay, Grolleau and Pinot Noir, can make unique expressions.
Like Crémant de Loire, Saumur Brut is made using the traditional method, which includes a second fermentation in-bottle, and is aged sur latte for a minimum of 9 months before being sold. They are best enjoyed during the first year and for up to 3 years from being released.
Refreshing with aromas of lemon, honey, almonds and sometimes with vanilla and toasty notes. Great as a glass of festive fizz and to enjoy with Christmas canapés, Saumur Brut can also be a match with seafood, white meats and creamy desserts.
Located on the right bank of the Loire River, in the Touraine region, Vouvray is best known for its sparkling wines made from Chenin Blanc, sometimes blended with a small amount of Orbois (permitted to make up 5% of the wine).
Due to the growing conditions, there are several different styles of Vouvray, ranging from brut to demi-sec, whose production is determined by the weather during the vintage and the amount of sunshine available to ripen the fruit.
Vouvray wines also have the capacity for ageing and can be enjoyed for 10 years, sometimes longer, a process that starts under ideal conditions in Vouvray’s natural limestone cellars carved into its hillsides.
With blossom and citrus notes, often with a touch of brioche, when aged, Vouvray can evolve to have notes of cooked fruit, apricot, quince and distinctive honey blossom, whilst retaining a good level of freshness. Another great sparkling Loire Valley wine for celebratory moments, Vouvray can be a good alternative to dry whites and also pairs excellently with a variety of cheeses; perfect to accompany a Christmas cheese board.
To enjoy Loire wines this Holiday season, benefit from an going promotion and shop on https://www.virginwines.co.uk/wine-case/Y55647VIRGIN/Loire-Valley-Wines (special offer until 30/11)