Though the Loire Valley produces many styles and colours of wine – red, white, rose, sparkling and sweet – it’s most well-known specialty is fresh white wines as appropriate for summer as a pair of crisp white pants. Similar to Pacific Place, the Loire Valley comprises three phases, with the eastern most phase slightly detached from the core.
The Loire Valley’s “Three Pacific Place” is known as the “Upper Loire” and specializes in zingy Sauvignon Blanc. The Upper Loire is most well-known for vibrant, taut, minerally wines produced in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. Dry, snappy and vivacious in good years, it can be a touch mean and grassy in poor years, but always delicious with salads, steamed vegetables, seafood and grilled fish. Though New Zealand sauvignon blanc has taken on a life of its own, its lean grassy exuberance was once modelled on these two villages.
Somewhat like the mall between towers One and Two Pacific Place, the area between Angers and Tours comprises the Middle Loire. The vineyards between these two medieval cities produce the finest chenin blanc in the world. Wine styles from villages such as Vouvray or Savennieres can range from dry, to sparkling and further down river to some of the longest lived lusciously sweet wines in the world. Sweet chenin blanc from the middle Loire Valley can be easily confused with Sauternes, especially when mature, but chenin blanc is a touch slimmer and a degree or two lighter in alcohol and like a new mistress, its sweetness levels are a touch less predictable.
Muscadet is the most Western of the Loire Valley’s wine districts, with vineyards planted alongside the now broad Loire River slipping its way out toward the ocean in rivulets, somewhat like the Pacific Place diffuses into Admiralty and the MTR terminal. Vines in these far western vineyards produce Muscadet, a wine bespoke for the plum, succulent oysters plucked from the region’s chilly north Atlantic seas. Muscadet’s tangy acidity, spritzy texture and zesty flavours, are akin to a fresh squeeze of lemon on the region’s fruits des mer – and a good enlivener for our imported antipodean oysters as well.
If like me, you’ve now become a touch disoriented by the overhwhelming size of the mall, jump in the nearest lift and think of the Loire Valley wines this way: on the first level are the cheap and cheerful, light zingy muscadets and bubbly Loire cremants. On the second floor, you’ll find edgy, young, tight-fitting sauvignon blanc wines by Sancere and Pouilly Fume designers. One the third floor look for the haute fashion collections of chenin blanc, both in dry wines for day wear and the elegant, intricate and sweet evening wines crafted by classic design houses.