The Loire Valley: Valley of the Kings, Firebrands and Saints!
( St. Patrick, Nicholas Joly, King Henry II of England and me!)
The longest river in France is a journey worth taking.
The wines of France are not always the best value depending on the location and recent Parker Points! but that is not the case if you choose well from the Loire Valley in the centre of France.
Currently, the Loire Valley, home to the modern firebrand of biodynamics Nicholas Joly, is also nicknamed the Valley of the Kings due to the lines of chateaux along the longest river in France. The author pictured with Nicholas below in July 2015. Nicholas is a vigneron who has literally been bringing the soil alive through the unique understanding of the connection between the soils of the Earth and the rotation of the cosmos which is the basis of biodynamic farming and brings that education to the vineyard. The prestigious wines of Coulée de Serrant are the Loire’s most famous and longest-lived whites are still under the stewardship of the Joly family and has its own appellation( meaning the wine authorities deem it a unique area/vineyard)
If you are drink Sancerre,muscadet,vouvray, rosé d’Anjou ( the original rosé wine), cremant de la Loire then you are drinking Loire wines already.
A little bit of history is that this is the region of France that the first king of England to claim lordship over Ireland came from; Henry Plantagenet of Anjou; the original Loire Firebrand! Henry Plantagenet or King Henry II of England as he would later be crowned in 1159 was born in Anjou in France. As the great-grandson of William the Conqueror on his mother’s side, he claimed and won the throne of England after his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine. When the Normans came to Ireland via Wales, Henry followed them fearing their power over the island that has always been the back door threat to England. A man that was known for his boundless energy and was always on the move the wines he may have drunk at that time will be researched, but his role in the trade of wine from France is important. The land that he and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine owned in France were valued sources of French wine. Henry and Eleanor were the original power couple that brought Bordeaux into the blend as Eleanor owned the lands south of the Loire River the famous Bordeaux region that would become even more productive once drained by the Dutch.
Below are Henry II and Eleanor at peace in Fountevrau Abbey in the Loire
When you think of St Joan of Arc riding to her destiny to rid France of the English at that time, it was to Chinon Castle in the Loire that she travelled in the 15th century to meet the Dauphin to advise she had been sent by God to have him crowned king of France, and though sadly she did come to a tragic end, she achieved her goal. Below is the very walkway St Joan and her horse took as they approached Chinon Castle
Indeed polymath and all-round genius Leonardo Da Vinci is buried in Royal Chateau d’ Amboise of the Loire, but we no longer know where his resting place was as it was destroyed at the time of the French Revolution. Though the mausoleum to Leonardo remains St Patriçk, patron saint of Ireland, studied at the famous Marmoutier monastery founded by St Martin near tours in the 5th century. Indeed, it is St Martin of Tours who is credited with cultivating the Chenin blanc grape sometimes known as pineau de la Loire for the first time in this area. St Martin is also considered the first horticulturist monk and the patron saint of wine.
Over time two famous vines were grafted to create the firebrand variety of cabernet sauvignon; cabernet franc (red) and sauvignon blanc (white) were to become the icon cabernet sauvignon grape
Back to the Loire wine, specifically, the eco-friendly wines that try not to use chemicals and biodynamic wines that try to take monoculture out of the agricultural norm as it is a monoculture that is responsible for the death of many species- vineyards are by their nature monoculture focused as they do specialise in one crop, but with biodynamics, it is encouraged to welcome as many species that are beneficial to the vine and promote same- if you would like a screenshot of the same look below, though in the era of Google Earth you can actually go to the vineyards if you choose online or surf the Valley of the Kings
Having visited the Loire Valley, we can confirm that it is a place of tranquillity, but also a powerhouse location for the increasingly popular agricultural process of biodynamics in which we specialise. A summary of biodynamics is that it predates the modern concept of organics. Coined in the 1920s by Austrian philosopher and all-round inquisitive genius Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics specialises in the mix of stars and earth to grow exquisite wines. Biodynamics goes beyond just removing the use of chemicals from the vineyard, it also relies on the natural cycle of the moon and stars to encourage the vines to meet their best potential.
Pays Nantais, Anjou, Center,Touraine, are the 4 major regions of the Loire
Loire Valley reds are light with very good acidity. Coming from the Atlantic Coast, the Middle Loire and the East Loire, one will encounter many styles. Always zesty with high acidity and often unoaked and fruity.
Cabernet Franc Gamay and Groslet( a native ancient grape of the Loire Valley)
The Chenin Blanc/pineapple de la Loire grape is the value white for the Loire. It can be in a zesty white style or the different levels of sweetness of Vouvray
Muscadet the value white of the Nantes region: The melon de Bourgogne grape from which Muscadet is made tends to be fresh and austere for many, so the Sur Lie option on the label here; literally translated as " on the lees" the Lee's are the yeast remnants at the bottom of the barrel that the wine is left in contact with to bring more flavour. A bit like marinating in cooking! We stock a fine example Les Gautronnieres Organic & Biodynamic Muscadet White Wine 2019 £13.99 This Organic & Biodynamic Muscadet has a beautiful powerful nose with aromas of white fruit enhanced by a mineral touch with a light citrus lemony note. The palate has well-integrated fruit and acidity with roundness and a fresh and lingering finish.
Rosé D’Anjou- When rosé was created without a sweet mass-produced market in mind!
Touraine: Made from the light, complex cabernet franc grape. The famous wines of Chinon, Bourgeil and Nicholas-de-Bourgeil and all are made from Cabernet Franc.
Sancerre- The most famous and quality Sauvignon Blanc. We stock a fine example with Francois Le Saint Sancerre Silex Organic & Biodynamic 2018
Bright straw gold colour with greenish hints. On the nose, we find pronounced aromas of citrus lemon pear green apple, floral and mineral notes. The palate is crisp with pineapple and grapefruit flavours complex crisp balanced with elegance and a great length.
Poully Fumé: Sauvignon Blancs of distinction and quality.
Sparklings: Cremant de Loire from traditional method and grapes can come from anywhere in the Loire. Sparkling Saumur or Sparkling Touraine must be specific to that appellation.
Sweet: Coté du Layon and Chenin Blanc sweet
As expected following the longest river in France. It goes from Atlantic climate on the west right through to continental of Sancerre in the middle of France
Middle Loire: Tufa= volcanic chalk souls that also have a hint of flintiness
Becoming increasingly important to market due to the procedures and vineyards being more environmentally friendly.
Our selection on this site includes
Francois Le Saint Sancerre Silex Organic & Biodynamic 2018
DOMAINE BONNET HUTEAU Gautronnières Organic & Biodynamic Muscadet 2019
Sablonnettes Anjou les Copines Aussi Red Gamay 2018
Sablonnettes Le Bon Petit Diable Red Cabernet Franc 2018
Sablonnettes Le P'tit Blanc White Chenin Blanc 2018
Sablonnettes Les Copains Dabord Red Grolet( Groslot/Groulleau) 2018
Flours d Érables 2016 Domaine Des Sablonettes Fleur D Erables Coteaux Du Layon
Sablonnettes C’est n’pas un rosé 2018
Eugene John McKenna August 31st 2020
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