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The Loire Valley

     
Chateau de l'ABBAYE (Pouilly Fume)      

We have holidayed in the Loire Valley dozens of times over the years visiting the fabulous châteaux of the Touraine and the vineyards of Chinon, Bourgeuil, St Nicolas de Bourgeuil as well as those of Vouvray and the Côteaux du Layon. However, we only started to import Loire wines in 2006 and then only from the area known as the Central Vineyards, an area not nearly as pictureque as the Touraine around Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. These are the Loire Valley's greatest wines without doubt - the Cabernet Franc wines of the Touraine will have their day and it is probably coming soon (we are less sure of the future successes for the dry white Chenin Blanc wines but time will tell) but for now it is the Sauvignons that rule.

The natural home of French Sauvignon Blanc is on the banks of the River Loire to the East of Bourges, where the Sancerre vineyards cover an area of around 2.350 hectares. Three types of soil predominate in the Sancerre region : - clay and limestone white soils, the "Terres Blanches", found in the hills furthest west. - Pebbly limestone soils, known locally as the "Caillottes" and cilicious-clay soils, underlying the hills further east. In "La Nièvre" on the left side of the River Loire, facing Sancerre, the Sauvignon is planted on very varied grounds where dominate marls and compact limestones. This is the vineyard of Pouilly-Fumé. A third, lesser-known, vineyard completes the picture: the small (330 hectare) vineyard of Menetou-Salon overlooks the town of Bourges.