On the blogby Alfred
April 16 2019

In April, a celebration of the Loire Valley wines in Quebec City

by Pascale Lemieux

This year, for the ninth edition, the Festival Québec Exquis is happening in Quebec City from the 6thto the 20thof April. For this occasion, chefs from various participating restaurants are teamed up with local producers to elaborate value menus (for lunch and/or dinner) to popularize the richness of local products. All of this is also in addition of a food and wine pairing by the sommelier of each individual restaurant with the theme being, for this specific year, the wines of Loire Valley. This is an ideal opportunity to discover and taste wine of this mythical winemaking region known as the “jardin de la France” and that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Loire Valley is renowned for offering a variety of very high quality wines. The various climates and soils are mostly responsible for the diversified range of products. Indeed, in this region, white, red, rosé, sparkling and sweet wines are produced. The majority of the wines produced are white wines (50 %), mostly elaborated from the Melon de Bourgogne, Chenin blanc or Sauvignon blanc varietals. 

The Chenin blanc varietal is certainly the most versatile of the three. A good example of this is on the Vouvray AOC in Touraine, where dry, semi-dry and sweet wines are produced. In the neighbouring region, Anjou-Saumur, the Coteaux du Layon appellation produces two very renowned dessert wines: Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux. Known for its natural acidity and for its strong aromas, the Chenin blanc varietal, from a good vintage, always creates an excellent aging wine. The Huet domain has mastered the varietal by making us discover its exceptional qualities and its strong minerality. Various soils are found on this appellation; argyle soils can produce soft wines, while others can produce more delicate wines with spicy aromas or very complex wines, after a few years of aging. All the wines elaborated by this domain are produced following the purest regional tradition since 1928. 

The Melon de Bourgogne is the typical varietal of this sub-region. Located closer to the Atlantic Ocean, this sub-region is blessed with a hotter and more humid climate. A particularity that is unique to the Muscadet resides in the “sur lie” mention that is present on three appellations: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu and Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire. This mention refers to a technique used that consists in aging the wines for a minimum of six months on lees; this has the effect of bringing roundness and depth to the wine.

The Sauvignon blanc is the king varietal of the renowned appellations of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Menetou-Salon du Centre-Loire. In Chavignol, the promised land of Sauvignon blanc, there exists two exceptional terroirs: Le Cul de Beaujet and les Monts Damnés. The soils are the same for both terroirs, but the exposition is different. The Monts Damnés is fully exposed to the south sunlight, resulting in strong and fiery wines. Even if almost everyone associates Sancerre to Sauvignon blanc, many excellent reds are also produced there based on the Pinot noir varietal.

For red wines in Loire valley, the main varietal is the Cabernet franc. Indeed, in Touraine, it can be found on the Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint-Nicholas de Bourgueil and Saumur-Champigny appellations. If the Cabernet franc is often described as fine and easy to drink, in the Chinon terroir, it can also be quite bodied, rich and can bring a depth that gives it a good cellaring potential. In fact, it is preferably to wait at least three to five years before opening the bottle to fully allow it to develop all of its complexity. 

The rendezvous is set in participating restaurants in the upcoming weeks for the Festival Québec Exquis where tastings, discoveries of Loire Valley wines and local gastronomic gatherings will take place! For the moviegoers, do not miss the presentation of the documentary titled Au Pif on April 20th, at the Cinema Le Clap. This movie relates the preparation process of Véronique Rivest in light of the participation to the Best Sommelier in the World competition in 2013 in Tokyo, Japan.

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