This guest post by Jill Barth was originally published at her blog, L’occasion, for all the BC wine lovers of rosé.
It’s a common travel fantasy: visit the Loire Valley (maybe on some sexy-fat-tire-bike), sip white wine, ogle the châteaux, ogle sunflowers, relax like royalty. If you bring a date, even better: ogle them too.
Let’s bust up that vision a bit, shall we?
I’m not arguing with tradition. I just want to snoop around a bit. I want to sneak off the tour and giggle with my husband in the barrel room. And who are you kidding? You do too… I’ve asked an unconventional but reliable friend to be the leader of our sneak, a renegade, boozy Rick Steves: a bottle of rosé.
FIVE THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT LOIRE WINES FROM A BOTTLE OF ROSÉ
1. Cabernet Franc is called Breton locally in the Loire Valley. This instantly makes me consider Brittany, the seaside region north of the Loire where no AOPs exist. Being a cooler climate region, the Loire use of the grape influenced winemakers in chilly, new-world settings, specifically New York, USA.
2. Young Cabernet Franc wines can be light-bodied and are ideal for summer. Drink fresh and young is the traditional practice for rosé wines, such as the bottle I had (which happened to be last year’s vintage, 2014), as well as the lighter reds from the regional grape. Give some of these bottles (depends on the wine) a few years to rest and they’ll gain complexity and substance enough to sit at the table with big roasted meats. I’m on the search for a wine like this to add to my cellar. According to Loire Valley wines one area winemaker said that fine, old Cabernet Franc is “reminiscent of the aromas of a forest after a rainstorm”. That lights the imagination, particularly because that is so different from the taste of my rosé (which is to be expected).
3. The Loire Valley has exquisitely versatile range. While the region contains a large number of appellations (over 90) the regulations are not as restrictive as other parts of France (Bourgogne, lookin’ at you.) and the area isn’t carved up into billions of wee, highly distinct micro-terroirs. Even so, it fosters variety to please everyone because it naturally has the environmental chops to support variety.
4. The Loire Valley is approachable and global. For my Anglophone friends (where you at?), according to Decanter: “320 Caves Touristiques where English is spoken and there’s something extra to see, whether an atmospheric cellar or a nature trail through the vines.” This makes is quite simple to consider the Loire as a welcome center into French wine travel. Welcoming, beautiful and compelling, these caves are a flawless travel destination.
5. Rosé from the Loire is unique and interesting. Though my bottle was a rosé from Anjou, it isn’t a Rosé d’Anjou, which is a regional specialty. Popular, drinkable and tasty, this wine is made from the grape Grolleau, which is exclusive to the Loire. The Loire Valley is the second largest producer of AOC rosé in France, coming in under Provence and just above the vignerons of the Rhône Valley: