Close to us here in Anjou is a parcel of land that is part of a mapped walk around the vineyards. On this small plot, you will find a single row of 17 different Loire valley grape varieties. It’s interesting to see the development of each variety – the differences in berry shape and ripeness, yield and health of each one. Below is a series of photos that I took on the 30th August. You can see for example that the Gamays are ahead of the Cabernets in ripeness and the Cabernet Franc is only mid-way through veraison. The Chenin looks pretty healthy and the Grolleau Gris has that lovely pink flush. There are one or two grape varieties that may be unfamiliar to you, especially here in the Loire. Did you know that there is a little Verdelho, particularly in and around Savennières? And Madeleine Angevine is a hybrid that was popular in the Loire in the past but is not found in appellation wines (it’s popular in the UK and Washington too as it’s suited to cool climate conditions). The Melon de Bourgogne is responsible for the lovely wines of Muscadet and Côt is the local name for Malbec (there’s lots of it in Touraine).
If you’re looking for diversity of wine style and grape variety then the Loire is the place for you. With this broad palette, Loire valley growers can make everything from crisp sparkling, dry, off dry, sweet and dessert style whites, light, fruity and medium bodied reds, dry, fruity, off-dry and sweeter style rosés and even sweet and sparkling reds too.