If you’re looking for value balanced with quality..—
The Loire Valley is to French wine what the Louvre is to art – everything all in one place. Wines from the Loire are dizzying in their diversity, from seaside white Muscadet to rich sweet Coteaux du Layon, light reds from the Gamay grape through to earthy Cabernet Franc. But at this time of year, Loire fizz is the perfect plunder to pillage and pile into your fridge ready for festive parties thanks to value balanced with quality.
In some ways the climate of the Loire has similar influences to the Champagne region – you can find patches of similar chalky soil and due to the cool climate, grapes retain zestiness. But Crémant can be produced across a huge area following the River Loire covering Saumur, Touraine and Anjou. Crémant de Loire is made in the same traditional method as other world class sparklers, but is predominantly made using Chenin Blanc – though other grapes are permitted such as white Chardonnay or red Pineau d’Aunis. And by focusing on specific appellations you can really tailor the flavours to your taste.
Sparkling Vouvray, for instance, tastes a bit like Golden Delicious apples and it’s one of my favourite wines to pair with sushi. Saumur Brut is my overall pick thanks to limestone soils with cellars dug from the chalk to mature the wine in perfect natural conditions. You can find a range of grapes in the blend here – white Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and red Pineau d’Aunis, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. My Wine of the Week, for instance, is a Saumur Rosé from the Wine Society made by Gratien & Meyer and it’s absurdly decent quality for the price. Cabernet Franc with a dash of Grolleau delivers red summer fruit with a light touch and sense of elegance – look no further for an all round party bottle.
But even beyond fizz, the Loire valley really does have it all. Rather like the Louvre, you could spend a lifetime looking and still only glimpse half of its treasures.
OLLY’S PICK OF THE BUNCH
VA-VA-VALUE: Prince Alexandre Crémant de Loire Brut (12.5%) £12.99 Waitrose. Quality fizz for the price, perfect with cheese straws or sausage rolls.
ZESTY ZINGER: Crémant de Loire Brut, Domaine des Haut Perrays (12%) £13.95 Lea & Sandeman. Zesty, piercing and full of flavour, this is gorgeous with smoked salmon.
FRUITY FIZZ: Abbesse de Loire Crémant de Loire Rosé (12.5%) £13.99 Laithwaites. A good fruity style of fizz with depth and decent richness – get a bottle in your fridge.
PEAR-FECT STARTER: LaCheteau Crémant de Loire Brut (12%) £14.99 Ocado. Outstanding for an aperitif, this has all the freshnss and vibrancy of a crunchy pear.
WINE OF THE WEEK
The Society’s Saumur Rosé Brut NV (12%) £11.50 The Wine Society. Sip the fruits of summer! Strawberries laced with redcurrants, this is electrifying fizz for the price.