A Loire Valley (Touraine) White

If you are looking for fine French wine and food, consider the Loire Valley region of central France. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you'll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour in which we review a white Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay from Touraine in the eastern part of the region.

Among France's eleven wine-growing regions the Loire Valley ranks third in total acreage devoted to vineyards. Given that France's longest river the Loire runs for 620 miles (one thousand kilometers) across the country, in many ways it could be thought of as a series of regions. Here they are running from west to east: Nantais whose primary grape is the white Muscadet, Anjou-Saumur whose primary grapes are the white Chenin Blanc and the red Cabernet Franc, Touraine whose primary white grapes are Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc and whose primary red grape is Cabernet Franc, and Central Vineyards whose primary white grape is Sauvignon Blanc and whose primary red grape is Pinot Noir. We intend to review at least one wine from each of these four areas.

Chambord is home to the largest of the Loire castles, built as a hunting lodge for Francois I early in the Sixteenth Century. Many people feel that Leonardo da Vinci was responsible for the original design. The statistics of this French Renaissance hunting lodge are stupendous. There are 440 rooms but sadly a mere 365 chimneys. How would you feel to be assigned to a room without a chimney? The wall surrounding the property is 20 miles (32 kilometers) long enclosing a thirteen thousand acre (fifty two square kilometer) forest. The story has it that the Emperor wanted to divert the Loire River to create a moat but wiser heads prevailed and he had to be satisfied with diverting the Cosson River. Whenever he visited it took twelve thousand horses to bring all his stuff; they had to transport all the furniture and all the food except for game. It was estimated that over the years he actually spent a grand total of seven weeks there. During the French Revolution the castle floors were sold for timber and the castle doors were burnt to keep people warm during the sales. This castle is now government property.

Before we review the Loire wine and imported cheeses purchased at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region. Start your meal with Rillettes (Coarse Pork Pate). For your second course savor Lapin au Vouvray (Rabbit with Onions, Shallots, and Vouvray Wine). And as dessert indulge yourself with Tarte aux Pommes a la Confiture de Chinon (Apple Pie with Chinon Wine Jam).

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Cheverny Blanc V. V. (Terra Vitis) 2005 12.5% alcohol about $15

I don't know why but the usual marketing materials were unavailable. So I accessed the producer's web site that offered following blurb - translated from the French by Google. Cheverny Blanc Old women Vines resulting from the marriage of Sauvignon and Chardonnay is manually collected with maximum maturity in order to release from the very constant flavours and a powerful gustatory length; to be useful between 7 and 8 degrees accompanied by fish out of sauce, scallop, snails as. Whaaat?

Didn't anybody tell Google that V. V. (Vieilles Vignes) means old vines and not Old women Vines? Here is my rapid translation: Cheverny Blanc Old Vines (wine) comes from Sauvignon (Blanc) and Chardonnay (grapes) that were manually harvested at their full maturity to bring out their powerful aromas and long, powerful flavors. Serve between 7 and 8 degrees C (44 to 46 degrees F) with fish in sauce, scallops, or snails. Frankly, I would rather review wines than translate documents. And that's what I am doing next.

My first meal was whole-wheat spaghetti with a homemade tuna, red onion, garlic, and Greek Olive sauce that had a commercial tomato spaghetti sauce as its base. I doused on a lot of grated Parmesan cheese. The wine was light, refreshingly acidic, and somewhat sweet. It was lemony with a taste of honey. When I finished the glass after finishing the meal I had the feeling that the wine's quality went up.

The next meal consisted of a commercially prepared barbecued chicken breast, rice, and an eggplant side. The Cheverny started off between weak and light but later picked up some strength. Interestingly enough it was quite present when paired with the tomato-based grilled eggplant.

The final pairing involved an omelet with local Provolone cheese and Greek Olives. The wine was somewhat assertive but short. As I had a little left I paired it with a high-quality chocolate-coated ice cream bar. The wine was nice and sweet and a good match, at least at first.

The first cheese pairing was with a mild Italian Pecorino Friulano cheese. They made a good couple; the wine showed a lot fruit and pleasant acidity and was rather long. The second cheese pairing was with a more forceful Dutch Edam cheese. The results were fairly similar but the wine was definitely flatter.

Final verdict. This wine is best with rather bland food and as such is overpriced. At a much lower price point it would be worth buying again. I really expect more at this price.

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About The Author, Levi Reiss
In his younger days Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books. Now he prefers drinking fine Italian, German, or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and the right people. He knows what dieting is, and is glad that for the time being he can eat and drink what he wants, in moderation. He loves teaching various and sundry computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his new wine, diet, health, and nutrition website http://www.wineinyourdiet.com and his Italian wine website http://www.theitalianwineconnection.com.