My husband, some friends and I traveled to France a few years ago. We landed in Paris and branched out from there to a couple of places, most notably, the Loire Valley. The area was beautiful and the people we met were even more so.
The Loire Valley is a HUGE wine region that follows the longest river in France. This region is extremely diverse in varieties (grapes) and styles of wine due to the mix of climates, soil types and landscape. Most famous for it's whites--but you would be crazy not to try them all.
Our home-base was Chinon and we explored one small section of the Loire called Touraine (orange in the map photo). We planned a day tour with a wine specialist and were blown away by the experience! We were recommended a contact by our bed & breakfast host, Martine. Audrey was to pick us up at 10 AM to visit wineries, have lunch in a vineyard and then dinner in a wine cave. We had no idea what to really expect - which created even more anticipation. I'll post about that whole experience soon--but know that it is HIGHLY recommended!! A trip to remember forever.
What we found that day was Audrey. Not not only an incredible wine guide-whose attitude toward wine is that it should be for everyone-but a friend across the world that we have stayed in contact with ever since. With COVID, we've all stayed indoors more often and looked for alternative ways to connect with people and alternative things to do on the weekends.
Audrey and I ended up chatting via Instagram and came up with something she and a friend, Alexis, put together. We had our first virtual Loire Valley Masterclass & tasting back in May.
Our small group met again last Sunday for the second class/tasting. We couldn't be more pleased with the whole experience. Whether you know nothing about wine or more than the next guy - you'll always learn something with these guys!!
So, what did we drink??
This Chardonnay was refreshing (aged in steel vats instead of oak) but also had nice body and roundness. It was aged "on the lees," as with Champagne. This gives a little toasty aroma to the wine along with nice texture.
It is very interesting to try wines made from the same grape but different areas of the world (or even one from a flat area and one from a nearby slope/hill.
If you want to notice the differences between wines made of Chardonnay-pick up 2 bottles.
One from California and one from France (particularly Bourgogne/Burgundy-but if you can find an Orléans-go for it!)
You'll find that even when both are aged in oak there will be marked differences.
We ended up pairing this one with a dinner of pasta with a creamy sauce, mushrooms and chicken. Yum! Also, recommended with goat cheese, seafood, fish and charcuterie.
Next white wine was a 100% Chenin Blanc from the Appellation Montlouis sur Loire.
Chenin Blanc ranges from dry to sweet - so it is a bit interesting to see what you can find.
If you see these labels on the bottle-here is a bit of an indication:
Sec=Dry (not sweet at all)
Tendre=Off-dry (a tiny bit sweet)
Demi-Sec=Mildly sweet (can be aged)
Molleaux=Sweet (can be aged)
This one will pair well with a little spice or a sweet & salty dish because of the slight sweetness of this wine. Think about trying this one with Thai food, spicy fried chicken.
Our last wine was a RED wine from the Sancerre Appellation. I am a huge fan of white Sancerre (as are many people) but I had never seen or had a red Sancerre.
It pairs well with delicate meat and fish. I love Pinot Noir with salmon, mushrooms, roasted chicken and it was recommended to pair well with pork tenderloin as well.
It has been a pleasure to join Audrey and Alexis for both classes...and looking forward to one more!
I'd be cutting you all short not to give you contact info for these guys: