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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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French Country Travel Life Loire Wine Lowdown



The vineyards of Sancerre in the Loire Valley

  • The vineyards of Sancerre in the Loire Valley Julian Elliott Ethereal Light

The  French Country Travel Life Loire Wine Lowdown was hinted at  in my last post…or rather my last post by a guest scribbler…the beautiful, talented and ever chic Karen Schwartz.

Therein, DA BG detailed the two major wine varieties of the ab/fab Loire. That there valley where the Kings of France did seriously party down.

Now, picking up that liquid thread, that esteemed  UK journal , the times…waxes poetic on the subject. And gives us some palette tingling info…


“It’s funny how one small detail can remind you of a whole holiday. It might be the smell of fish on the barbecue, a particular bird song or the sight of a tandem bicycle. For me, it’s hollyhocks; they were growing everywhere when we visited Touraine in the heart of the Loire Valley in France.

As soon as we arrived in Tours, we dropped our bags at the hotel and took a drive through the countryside. The roads between villages are lined with birch trees. Some stand alone, others are grouped in geometric grids; the sun flashes through the gaps as you whizz past. Not only is the Loire Valley an incredibly pretty region, but it also freed me from my pinot grigio wine rut.

We stopped in a bar for a simple lunch of goat’s cheese salad. My glass of Touraine Sauvignon Blanc was a perfect match; its crisp, citrussy style isn’t overtly fruity so it worked well with the food. Sauvignon Blanc was a recurring theme during our trip; it comes in so many styles in the Loire Valley, from clean and pure to more tropically fruity, but always dry and fresh, which means it goes really well with fish.

The next day we took a relaxing cruise on a small flat-bottomed wooden boat. The mighty Loire relaxes in summer, becoming languorous and shallower. The pilot gave us a glass of sparkling wine made from the chenin blanc grape. It refreshes like a crisp green apple, but has a toastiness that gives it depth and intensity. We soon figured out the best way to get around was by bicycle.

We decided a picnic would be fun, so stocked up on bread, tomatoes and charcuterie at the food market that morning and packed a bottle of Touraine gamay, a light, bright red that shares many characteristics with other Touraine wines: fresh, elegant, relatively low in alcohol and versatile with food. We cycled back slowly along quiet roads banked with hundreds of wild flowers, with a few lazy bees to attend to them all.

On our last night we treated ourselves by booking a table at a nice restaurant in a village beside the river. We started off with a Touraine rosé, a delicate redcurrant-scented wine with a little spicy kick. For dinner, we chose duck and lamb, so decided to go for some deeper reds.

We tried the local malbec, then a cabernet franc, which is like a chilled-out version of cabernet sauvignon, with blackcurrant aromas but lighter on its feet. It was still warm outside as we finished our meal, so we watched trilling swallows dance around a pastel-pink sunset.

The beauty of Touraine is that it’s a unique wine region that’s easy to get to know. If you like crisp, aromatic whites, try one of the many different Sauvignon Blancs – the signature grape variety of the region. And for reds there are light Gamays,through medium-bodied Cabernet Francs to robust Malbecs. Not to mention rosé and sparkling wines.

And it’s not just French dishes they pair with – try Sauvignon Blanc with baked white fish like cod or plaice; simple salads; or as an aperitif to whet the appetite with salted cashews and olives. For pizzas and light Thai curries choose a fruity Touraine Gamay; for more powerful flavours like chilli con carne or chargrilled steaks, try Touraine Malbec. They’re easy to find back home in off-licences and supermarkets, and they don’t cost the earth. So I guess it’s not just the hollyhocks that take me back to our holiday in Touraine; it’s drinking the wines too.

An introduction to Touraine

The wines of Touraine at the heart of the Loire Valley are some of the most attractive in France. The verdant countryside supports a wealth of different styles. In whites, the main variety is crisp, aromatic Sauvignon Blanc; but rich, honeyed Chenin Blanc also features. The classic Loire red is smooth and fruity Cabernet Franc, whilst there is also bright, berry-scented Gamay and darker, tannic Malbec.”

Read more HERE

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24 Responses to “French Country Travel Life Loire Wine Lowdown”

  1. pendfile wilde says:

    great to have you back on nthe “wine trail” again!

  2. olive winston says:

    seems like you’re not the only one nutso for loire wines..(hey, include me in too!)

  3. dani ashford says:

    this post..and the video especially really gave me the vibe…sensational!

  4. hal davis says:

    great to learn about the wines of this rergion……had no idea there was such a choice!

  5. paul perkins-carr says:

    with ya 100% there hal….bordeaux gets way too much ink for my liking!

  6. malcom ironsides says:

    i agree..to a certain extent paul….however there are some very good
    “every day drinkers” coming from there in the past few years..

  7. lara doone says:

    just wish i was there!!!

  8. norm flockhart says:

    thanks to this fine post…..definitely putting a loire wine tour on my “to do in 2015” list!

  9. valerie ranmis says:

    sounds like an early new years resolution to me norm..

  10. norm flockhart says:

    ABSOLUTELY valerie!

  11. ian wattlesworth says:

    we’re been through the loire many times…..and always have the feeling every time is the first…truly a magic place.

  12. carleton stenns says:

    ian…sounds like this post;;;flowerly ,as iot may be;;;is right on the money.

  13. ian wattlesworth says:

    carelton…….you’re right!….and you simply MUST go!

  14. jack coleman says:

    just(pardon the expression) “stumbling on” this post now….been on holiday…my excuse..but i am a regular reader of DA BG!..and this is one of the most inspiring posts in a while!

  15. ed winston says:

    with ya jack…..but did you mean “inspiring you to visit the loire?

  16. jack coleman says:

    indeed i did, ed!

  17. karen ingram says:

    not to be a nit-pîcker jack, but by saying “one of the most inspiring posts ina while” – are you inferring that DA BG’s other posts have been less than inspiring?

  18. jack coleman says:

    absolutely not karen. (and you ARE a nit-picker! – lol)

  19. karen ingram says:

    actually, one of my best qualities jack.

  20. fay manners says:

    so much great info in this post…that i gave up making notes…and just copied the whole she-bang into block notes.

  21. dani ashford says:

    fay..and i thought i was the only one happily overloaded with timely travel tips!

  22. fay manners says:

    just goes to show ya dani..whenever you think you’re alone….you’re not!

  23. bob wilson says:

    fay..is that contribution your own?….or stolen from Oscar Wilde?

  24. fay manners says:

    my own bob….and hey, who’s oscar wilde?

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