Loire Around the World
Chardonnay, Chenin, Sauvignon, Cabernet… these familiar grape varieties are found around the world and take on different characteristics according to their terroir. How do New World grape varieties fare against those from the Old World’s Loire Valley?
Cabernet Franc originates from the Basque country and is one of the main grape varieties in the Loire Valley. There it produces medium-bodied wines with aromas of raspberries and cherries. Cabernet Franc is grown succesfully all over the world, where it takes on bolder caracteristics. It has even become one of Niagara’s leading grapes!
Chardonnay, a Burgundian grape, produces wines with great ageing potential in Chablis—light in body with high acidity. The variety is now grown wherever wine is produced, with golden, oaked, easy-to-drink wines with tropical fruit flavours in California.
Sauvignon Blanc, from the Bordeaux region, is king of the Loire Valley, with Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé being prime examples. Wines are crisp and aromatic, with notes of gooseberries and nettles. It is perhaps best known as New Zealand’s most celebrated grape, where the wines are fruity and powerful, with unmatched bold flavours. California produces a slightly sweet version, aged in oak.
Finally, Chenin Blanc has been grown in the Loire Valley for more than a thousand years. These wines are sweeter, and also produce superb sparklings such as Crémant. Today, more Chenin Blanc is planted in both California and South Africa—where is it the most widely planted grape, producing elegant and fresh wines—than in France.