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The wines of Blois-Chambord

Three AOCs with long histories

While history can be read by an expert in the old stones of the châteaux, it can also be tasted by anyone trying the three AOC wines from the area

Tasting machines, Maison des Vins de Cheverny. © OTBC

Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny

Almost five hundred years ago, when François I began construction of a Château in Romorantin for his mother, according to plans by a certain young Mr Leonardo da Vinci, he didn't miss his chance to plant a vineyard, introducing a new grape variety from Burgundy for the occasion.

The grapes were particularly suited to this flinty soil, and it adapted to the climate readily, despite the greater temperature variations than in the rest of the Loire wine producing region.

Difficult to tame, with a strong acidity and offering only modest yields, it will never be a very widespread variety, but well managed it produces an exceptional wine, complex and built for the cellar, where it can develop a particularly fine and expensive character.

In 1993 of the AOC label of origin Cour-Cheverny, was dedicated to this single grape variety, the Romorantin.

A white wine to be laid down

Cour-Cheverny is a white wine, with most years yielding a dry vintage. However, it can be beautifully sweet if the year's weather is just right. Aromatic, ample and long on the palate, it can be drunk in its youth and has a beautiful vivacity, with floral and lemony notes, ideally suited to fish and shellfish dishes, especially scallops.

With time it deploys all its richness and opulence, with honey, dried fruit and acacia tines... a perfect companion for sweetbreads, poultry and lobster.

A preserved heritage

Fewer than thirty producers are entitled to bear the name, among them, certain historic domains that have worked extremely hard for the recognition of Cour-Cheverny and the preservation of the Romorantin variety, often neglected in favour of "easier" grape varieties, such as sauvignon. The dynamism of the appellation is also fuelled by newcomers, sometimes called "neo-vignerons", seduced by the originality and the potential of the grapes but also by the highly preserved environment of this vineyard, which is among "greenest" in France.

Such is the case of Cyrille Sevin, a professor of mathematics who traded his blackboard for the soil in 2007, at Mont-Près-Chambord.

His organic produce explores different expressions of the local soil, with Cheverny white and red, crémant de Loire and Cour-Cheverny, which has gained a great deal of attention among the experts. He is particularly fond of the Romorantin grape, which he has tamed in the vineyards, harvesting it nearly a month after the other grape varieties, giving it time to express all its depth. His advice is to lay the Cour-Cheverny down for at least two years and, if possible, to forget it for eight to ten years.

AOC Cheverny

  • White grape varieties: Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Orbois, Chenin
  • Red and rosé grape varieties: Pinot noir and Gamay
  • Area: 589 hectares
  • Production: 27,524 hectolitres (52.5% white, 39.2% red and 8.2% rosé)
  • Producers: 62 (independents and cooperators)

AOC Cour-Cheverny

  • Variety: Romorantin (unique and exclusive to the area)
  • Area: 54 hectares
  • Production: 2,095 hectolitres
  • Producers: 28 (independents and cooperators)
Touraine-Mesland © Blois Chambord Tourist Office

Touraine-Mesland

Between Amboise and Blois, on the right bank of the Loire, the vineyards of Touraine-Mesland flourish. The mild winters produce light wines ideal for blending. White Gamay was introduced here in the 19th century, giving the local red wines their fruity character.

The legend

The Loire, majestic and capricious, has a fascinating history, which has shaped its shores, enriched by local legends. One has it that during a drought, when the river had run dry, the earth suddenly cracked open and Meslande, the muse of Dionysus, emerged from the river bed on a providential flood which saved the crops and vines.

To the astonished winemakers, the nymph, her hair in the shape of a bunch of grapes, announced "If Dionysus sent me here, it is because your land is in harmony with the vine, that your soil is worthy of a grand cru and that it must be preserved and cherished" So the myth of Touraine-Mesland was born.

A small vineyard

This small vineyard of barely a hundred hectares, first planted by the monks of the abbey of Marmoutier, is the first in the region to have introduced the Gamay variety in 1838. This grape, with its light, clear juice, originated in the Beaujolais region. It became so popular that it is today the most emblematic grape variety in the region.

Winning its AOC in 1955, the Touraine-Mesland appellation stretches along the right bank of the Loire, opposite the Château de Chaumont. It covers the municipalities of Molineuf, Mesland, Chouzy-sur-Cisse, Chambon-sur-Cisse, Onzain and Monteaux. Its geography, located between the plateau and the river banks, gives to its wines a wonderful diversity.

The soil is rich in flint and sand, and the fruity reds are obtained from blends of gamay, cabernet franc and malbec. The more clay-rich soils give floral whites from Chenin grapes, sometimes blended with Chardonnay and Sauvignon.

AOC Touraine-Mesland

  • Variety: white: Chenin, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, red: Gamay, Côt, Cabernet Franc
  • Area: 100 ha
  • Annual production: 4000 hectolitres, of which 70% red, 12% white and 18% rosé.
  • Producers: 9 winemakers