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Loire

Whilst the Loire is famous as the longest river in France, it is overlooked as the home of Sauvignon Blanc and a host of wonderful wines. 

The river begins in the south, nearly touching the Rhône, but the two regions could hardly be more different.  Almost all the vineyards of the Loire are found along its northern banks, where ripening is hard and character great.

Whilst the Loire is famous as the longest river in France, it is overlooked as the home of Sauvignon Blanc and a host of wonderful wines. 

The river begins in the south, nearly touching the Rhône, but the two regions could hardly be more different.  Almost all the vineyards of the Loire are found along its... read more.

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White wines, amongst the greatest in the world, are dominant, though the rosés delight and, when conditions are right, the reds can be excellent and distinct. Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Vouvray and Saumur-Champigny are amongst the famous names of the region.

Styles of Wine

The vineyards stretch from east to west for over 200 miles, beginning at Sancerre and ending at Muscadet.  These are two of the most famous names in the region, with instantly recognisable styles, but the Loire has variety to go with its length.

It is impossible to state, in so short a space, the styles that the Loire has perfected.  Individual areas need to be examined to get to the bottom of these.  However, to generalise, the whites and rosés of most years are crisp and acidic, but a warm vintage can create great depth of flavour and ageing potential.  The reds are light, floral and fruity, sometimes complex, but can struggle to ripen and thus can disappoint.  Sweet wines are often great value.

Key Vines

Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé), Chenin Blanc (Vouvray) and Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet) are the most important white varieties whilst Cabernet Franc is the dominant red.  Pinot Noir and Gamay have both arrived from Burgundy to play a small role.

Climate and Terroir

Both vary greatly along the wine-producing length of the river.  Weather coming in off the Atlantic affects the wines of Muscadet and the west but has dispersed long before Vouvray and Sancerre, where the climate is continental and the soil very different.  They are as varied as the styles of the Loire and defy explanation in so short a space.

One generalisation that can be made is about the latitude of the vineyards.  They are on the northern extent of reliable, large-scale winemaking and unfavourable years will drastically affect yield and quality.  Conversely, a good year can be truly magnificent.

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  1. La Grande Marque Saumur, France

    La Grande Marque Saumur, France 75cl

    An elegant and crisp wine, ideal for drinking on any occasion.

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    £10.74
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    £11.95
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    £8.95
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    £9.96
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  2. Robe d'Or Brut Vin Mousseux

    Robe d'Or Brut Vin Mousseux, France 75cl

    A lively, sparkling wine from France with excellent bubbles and a fresh, fragrant flavour.

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    £8.52
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    £8.95
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    £7.10
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    £7.46
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  3. Robe d'Or Rosé Vin Mousseux, France

    Robe d'Or Rosé Vin Mousseux, France 75cl

    Fresh and fizzy with summer fruit characteristics and a dry finish.

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    £5.95
    £4.96
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  4. Muscadet, Le Fief de la Brie Sevre et Maine Sur Lie

    Muscadet, Le Fief de la Brie Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, 2015 75cl

    A wine with a pleasing ripe fruit character which is balanced by a zippy freshness. Easy drinking and a great match with fresh seafood.

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    £7.92
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    £8.94
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    £6.60
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    £7.45
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  5. Pouilly Fume, Chateau de Tracy

    Pouilly Fume, Chateau de Tracy, 2015 75cl

    Aromas of grapefruit, rhubarb and some peach and white flower notes. The palate is supple with a rich mid palate with freshness and a mineral saltiness while the finish is long, balanced with some lemon zest over tones.

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    £19.92
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    £23.00
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    £16.60
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    £19.17
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  6. Pouilly Fume, Domaine des Fines Caillottes Jean Pabiot

    Pouilly Fume, Domaine des Fines Caillottes Jean Pabiot, 2015 75cl

    Fragrant smoky aromas backed up by the zesty and characterful Sauvignon Blanc fruit.

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    £15.00
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    £16.94
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    £12.50
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  7. Reuilly, La Raie Claude Lafond

    Reuilly, La Raie Claude Lafond, 2014 75cl

    An attractively succulent Sauvignon Blanc with deliciously concentrated gooseberry fruit flavours and a concentrated dry finish.

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    £10.69
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    £11.90
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    £8.91
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  8. Sancerre Terres Blanches, Domaine Roblin, 2015

    Sancerre Terres Blanches, Domaine Roblin, 2015 75cl

    Soft and delicate goosbery fruit aromas. Pleasanty dry with purity on the palate and an elagant, attractive finish.

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    £15.66
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    £17.60
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    £13.05
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  9. Sancerre Domaine de la Tonnellierie

    Sancerre Domaine de la Tonnellierie, 2016 75cl

    Crisp, fruity and aromatic with a generous helping of stoney minerality. Classic Sancerre from a family with a wine making history stretching back over 300 years.

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    £12.06
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  10. Touraine, Sauvignon Les Mazelles

    Touraine, Sauvignon Les Mazelles, 2015 75cl

    Elegant floral and citrus notes marry on the palate with a crisp, dry finish.

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    £8.82
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    £7.35
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  11. Vouvray La Forcine Demi-Sec

    Vouvray La Forcine Demi-Sec, August Bonhomme, 2015 75cl

    Elegant citrus fruit flavours give this medium style wine a balancing freshness.

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    £9.54
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    £10.85
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  12. Chinon, Le Temps des Cerise

    Chinon, Le Temps des Cerise, 2014 75cl

    This light and fruity yet deceptively complex red has a slightly green character nestled in amongst red summer berries and just a hint of spice. Can be served lightly chilled. 

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    £11.46
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    £9.55
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