If the Loire Valley were to be summed up in a single word, it would be diverse, and with such diversity on offer and a seemingly limited proportion making its way to Australian shores, the recent “Bloom up with Loire Valley Wine” event offered the perfect opportunity to put palate to context. The tasting involved a contingent of twenty-six wineries represented by nine importers along with three Loire Valley producers actively seeking an importer to the Australian market. Visitors were treated to a suitably diverse range of wines, once again proving that the Loire is about much more than Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé Sauvignon Blanc. Whilst overall quality was exceptional, the three producers, currently without an Australian distributor, ultimately stole the show.
The first of the three is Château Soucherie. Located 20 minutes south of Angers in the Anjou region (Angers is approximately 140km from the coast), the 28-hectare historic vineyard produces Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wines from Anjou (dry Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Franc/Grolleau), Savennières (dry Chenin Blanc), Coteaux du Layon (sweet Chenin Blanc), and Chaume 1er Cru (sweet Chenin Blanc). Despite occupying only a few appellations, Château Soucherie epitomises the importance of terroir and microclimate, with every expression striving to reflect the exact vineyard from which it hails.
The second vineyard looking to expand into the Australian market is Lionel Gosseaume. Located a further 180km east, halfway between the famous Châteaux of Chambord and Chenonceau in the AOC Touraine, it specialises in producing Sauvignon Blanc (75%) and Gamay (20%) reflective of terroir and varietal characteristics. Lionel Gosseaume also produces wine from two almost-extinct white varietals, Mesliers Saint François and Menu-Pineau, playing a role in preserving and honouring the centuries of viticultural history of the region.
The third winery is the coastally located Domaine des Tilleuls. A combination of exceptional schist-based terroir, cool maritime influences, and a long growing season provides a unique environment suited to many grape varieties. Despite this, Domaine des Tilleuls has smartly chosen to focus on the variety that the conditions suit best: Muscadet. Each of its three AOC Muscadet Sèvre et Maine offerings provides a unique perspective into the subtle variations imparted by vine age and winemaking techniques, celebrating a grape whose freshness and liveliness are ideally suited to Australia’s hot climate. Domaine des Tilleuls also offers a selection of red and white IGP Val de Loire wines.
The remaining twenty-six wineries on display completed the regional panorama with styles such as the fresh, summer-ready Anjou rosé, elegant Cabernet Franc from Chinon, and great value Crémant de Loire produced from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes. Upon leaving, it seemed everyone was asking themselves why they hadn’t paid enough attention to the Loire before.