Visiting Touraine Wineries
This July, I traveled to the region of Touraine in the Loire Valley, where I had the chance to visit some amazing wineries. Here are a few highlights from the trip.
The Touraine region takes its name from the city of Tours which lies at its heart. Tours is a medium-sized city that served as a major American base during World War I and is surrounded by beautiful vineyards and amazing wine. The local university provides culture to enrich the charming town and its beautiful surroundings.
The Frissant family has been living and making wine in the village of Mosnes for eight generations. The family currently has a 27-hectare estate where they grow a variety of local grapes, including Sauvignon Blanc and Côt Noir (also known as Malbec) from which they make rosé. The proprietors are proud of their land, heritage, and products - relishing the idea of sharing their viticultural passion with wine lovers around the world. Despite their limited production, Xavier Frissant wines are available in the US and represent a great value.
Domaine Joël Delaunay
Thierry Delaunay is the owner and winemaker at the estate named after his father, Joël. The winery lies near the banks of the Cher River, a tributary to the Loire. For many years, the winery has focused on Sauvignon Blanc with small quantities of other grapes, like Côt Noir.
The winery recently got some good news when the INAO, the French regulatory agency that governs the labeling of wine, added a new designation for wines from their region of Chenonceaux. They can now sell wines labeled "Chenonceaux," as well as their classic wines labeled with the more generic "Touraine." The Chenonceaux bottlings were delicious and unusual. Red Chenonceaux is made from a mandatory blend of Cabernet Franc and Côt Noir, while the white is made from Sauvignon Blanc. The Delaunay white Chenonceaux sees a little oak and time on the lees, giving it a deeper color and fuller body. These wines are difficult to find in the US, but they're worth tasting if you run across them. Until then, the Delaunay Sauvignon Blanc represents an amazing value and outstanding example of Loire Valley wine.
I found the Loire Valley to be even more beautiful and diverse than I expected. The wines were of such consistently high quality, and the people were so hospitable that I'm already looking forward to my next visit. After visiting the wineries discussed above, we went to dinner at a local cafe where we had lamb cooked with cream and goat's milk cheese. Paired with local Cabernet Franc, that dish was a poignant advocate for the culinary virtues of the Loire Valley.