Thursday, 31 August 2017

Loire wines: made for sunny weather

A recent trip to the Loire has reminded me what a brilliant area it is for summer drinking. For a couple of days in mid-July temperatures around the Loire hit almost 40°C – days when I and a group of fellow wine educators were driving around the region in a minibus with no air conditioning. Never have I been so keen to explore producers’ cellars.

And yet, in all that heat, the wines we tasted offered fresh fruit flavours offering plenty of refreshment – yes, even the red wines, which were universally served fridge cold.

The Loire appeals to my greedy side, as the collection of regions make a wide variety of wine styles, encompassing sparkling wines, rosés, whites from bone dry to lusciously sweet and those refreshing reds. You can see why Loire wines would be my Desert Island Discs luxury can’t you?

What to look out for? The 2015 vintage was warm, resulting in some super-ripe wines. The excellent 2016 vintage is available now and is what you should look for if refreshment is what you’re after. The Wine Society is running an offer on a range of 2016s until 10th September, including this juicy red.

Touraine Rouge “Le Bécassou” Domaine des Echardières 2016 - £8.95 from The Wine Society

I would save this for a sunny weekend lunch and serve it slightly chilled (I don’t think we’re in danger of anything approaching 40° for a while). Its crisp cherry fruit is great with cured meats and rubs along well with the kind of picnic style lunch that you can eat indoors or out, depending on the weather. Touraine reds are often made from Gamay (the Beaujolais grape), which can come as something of a surprise. Here it’s topped up some Cabernet Franc and Malbec to give extra structure and fruit definition.

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