Finding Aloha in Loire Valley Wines

MNKO's wine expert explores the Loire.

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Story by Charles Fredy

wine advice by Charles FredyAttending the recent Kapalua Wine & Food Festival reminded me how well certain wines pair with Hawai‘i’s abundant seafood and exotic flavors. The wines of France’s Loire Valley offer some excellent choices.

The Loire is a region of magnificent chateaus, majestic towns, and a wine history dating back to the first century. The Loire River winds 630 miles from the mountains of central France to the Atlantic Coast, creating distinctive microclimates that produce wines of every style—not just Chenin Blanc, the valley’s most important grape, but also quality red, white, dry and sweet wines—something very few growing areas are capable of.

Master Sommelier Fran Kysela says that in all of France, the Loire has the greatest number of wines that are a seamless match at the table.

The western region of Pays Nantais boasts the wines of Muscadet, made from Melon de Bourgogne. Of that region, the wines from Sevre et Maine a Sur Lie, in particular, pair beautifully with shellfish or oysters. (“Sur Lie” refers to a winemaking method that allows the wine to rest on the lees during fermentation, producing a rounder, more balanced wine.)

The eastern area of Anjou is famous for its dessert wines. Among the best are Coteaux du Layon, Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume. Anjou also produces Savenniéres, a dry wine made from Chenin Blanc that can be exquisitely matched with our local fresh fish, sautéed sea scallops, roasted veal and Asian-infused duck.

The region of Touraine produces the red wines of Chinon and Bourgueil, made from Cabernet Franc. These fruity, lively wines pair incredibly well with summer barbeques, lamb, chicken and duck. Vouvray is possibly the best of the Loire’s Chenin Blancs, thanks to its stunning diversity.

In the central Loire area, Chenin gives way to Sauvignon Blanc and the wines of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. These steely, mineral- driven, complex wines are an incredible match with the famous goat cheese Chabichou du Poitou, produced just south of the Loire. For locavores, I suggest pairing one of these wines with the less elegantly named, but delightful “Udderly Delicious” plain chevre from Maui’s own Surfing Goat Dairy. Baaa-n appetit! 

Some of my favorites:

+ Guy Bossard, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine, Sur Lie, Domaine de l’Ecu, 2006

+ Château Gaudrelle, Vouvray, Clos Le Vigneau, 2008

+ Domaine des Rouet, Chinon, 2005

+ Jean Reverdy, Sancerre Blanc, La Reine Blanche, 2007

+ Michel Redde “La Moynerie” Pouilly-Fumé, 2006

+ Bouvet-Ladubay, Signature, Sparkling Wine, Suamur, N.V.

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