Loire wines:

One of the bonuses of this summer's press tastings has been the quality of aromatic Loire whites based on sauvignon blanc

Anthony Rose
Wednesday 08 July 2015 13:38 BST

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The major white grape of the central Loire can be one-dimensional and difficult to match with food. Yet because the restraint, finesse, balance and flinty dryness of the better examples are generally not as in-your-face as their Kiwi counterparts, they can often work satisfyingly not just on their own but with salads, goat's cheese and white fish.

Not a million miles from sancerre, Domaine Jacky Marteau's 2014 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, £9, Marks & Spencer, is an example of the distinctive, fresh, fragrant style, in which herb and nettle characters etch the gooseberry flavours of this zingy dry white with juicily tongue-tingling herbaceous borders.

The 2014 Le Grand Ballon Sauvignon Blanc, Val de Loire, £8.49, Waitrose, shows also that energising sancerre-like gooseberry weight and citrusy crispness. Down the road, Cheverny is an appellation which, unusually, allows the interloper chardonnay, mingling – in the 2013 Cheverny, Emmanuel Delaille, Loire Valley, £9.49, Bargain Booze, Wine Rack – herb aromatics with the fuller-bodied ripeness of the chardonnay.

The Loire Valley's twin sauvignon peaks are sancerre and pouilly-fumé. Sainsbury's 2014 Taste the Difference Sancerre, £13, is a quality example of the appellation from the excellent producer Florian Mollet, an elegant dry white with smoky aromatics and a fine tension between sweet fruit and pithy grapefruit freshness. Thierry Merlin-Cherrier's 2014 Sancerre, £16, Morrisons, is another fine blend of elderflower and herb with juicy gooseberry fruit etched with the zingy acidity of the new vintage.

The minerally aspects of the variety are exploited by Domaine Hubert Brochard whose 2013 Sancerre Silex , £16, Marks & Spencer, shows not just elderflower and basil, but a salty dryness that has you licking your lips before, during and after. For the ultimate in serious Sancerre, Alphonse Mellot's 2013 Le Manoir, £21.99, Waitrose, with herbal intensity and spicy oak, chimes nicely with grilled cod.

Returning to the freshness of the 2014 vintage, the 2014 Fontenille Pouilly Fumé, £10.99, Wine Rack, is benchmark stuff in which the purity of the sauvignon blanc grape is transmitted through nettle aromas, a crisp prickle and plenty of elderflower juiciness. Jonathan Pabiot's 2014 Pouilly Fumé, £19.99, buy two = £13.32, Majestic, displays the classic aromatic zing of the best pouilly-fumé, with tart grapefruit crispness. Equally, Florian Mollet's 2014 Pouilly Fumé Antique, £17, Sainsbury's, is a super-elegant style, all nettle and herb, gooseberry notes, and zesty, mineral intensity.

Something for the weekend

Hilltop Cserszegi Fuszeres Premium

A tongue-twisting Hungarian grape variety imbues this non-vintage white (we presume it's from 2014) with a ginger-spicy snap and a refreshing, balanced and dry finish. £7, Asda

2012 Vacqueyras, Seigneur de Fontimple, Rhône

This aromatically pepper-spicy southern Rhône blend is based on grenache and is moreish in raspberry jam and loganberry fruit, while a spine of acidity adds verve. £13.99, Wine Rack

2013 Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Pinot Noir

This polished pinot noir from the North Island's "little Burgundy" displays aromatic berries pepped up with oak, and a long and juicy finish. £19.99, buy 2 = £14.99, Majestic

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in