It is dreaded April 15 as I write this and, although I would dearly love something stronger to ease the fiscal pain, I will not forsake my French Winophiles group who are exploring the wines of Samur and Anjou. Though both of these appellations are located in Loire Valley, they produce very distinct wines. Saumur is said to make the best Chenin Blanc and Anjou makes some of Loire Valley’s best reds from their Cabernet Franc grapes. These appellations are worthy of full exploration. However, life has been a little crazy and my form of March Madness has carried over to April, so my dive into Saumur and Anjou ended up being more like a toe-dip into the wonderful wines from these appellations.

Chateau De Breze Chenin Blanc

Chateau De Breze Chenin Blanc

The first wine selection was a 2013 Chateau De Breze Chenin Blanc purchased from K & L Wines for $18.99. This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc and 12.5% ABV, and is produced from the estate containing a famous mid-fifteenth century castle and three operating wine presses dating back to the sixteenth century. In the glass the wine is a clear, pale yellow. The nose is aromatic with hints of citrus, apple, and honey. In the mouth the wine is light to medium bodied with tart, crisp acidity. I tasted Granny Smith Apples and peaches that combined nicely and ended in a crisp finish. I paired this with a traditional escargot and a Honolulu Tuna Tartare. The wine shined with the escargot, helping cut some of the rich fatty feel from the butter and garlic. However, it was not an ideal pairing with the tuna tartare as it did not provide enough sweet notes to balance the spicy flavors of the tartare. Regardless, this is an absolutely delightful wine suitable for serving at soirees and summer picnics.

Gar'O'Vin Cabernet Franc Anjou Rouge

Gar’O’Vin Cabernet Franc Anjou Rouge

Loire Valley reds are known to be lighter-bodied wines with bright red fruit notes and a cleansing acidity. These qualities make the wines quite refreshing and ideal for serving with food as the pairing ends up being more harmonious and less overbearing. These reds generally are ideal for hot climates and summer entertaining.

My next wine selection, a 2012 Gar’O’Vin Anjou Rouge Cedric Garreau Cabernet Franc purchased from K & L Wines for $22.99, well demonstrates the nature of Loire Valley reds. This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc and 12% ABV. In the glass the wine exhibits a rich, deep ruby color. The nose is lively and reminiscent of a wine that you expect to be hot on the palate, but in the mouth the wine is light and fresh with hints of soft, elegant tannins. The wine has nice, light fruit notes, but is not heavy, syrupy or a fruit bomb. I even picked up some chalk on the finish. The wine was paired with a beautifully seared salmon steak and a filet of beef. It held up well to the beef and was a perfect pairing with the salmon. It complemented but did not overpower either dish.

Cedric Garreau started producing wine in 2010 when he purchased just under 7 acres of land which is classified as a micro-vigneron. The wines are certified organic. The Anjou Rouge is macerated and fermented on native yeasts for a period of three weeks with no chapitalization before being aged for 10 months in barrique. He produces approximately 4,000 bottles of the Anjou Rouge each year utilizing traditional equipment. I’m looking forward to trying more of his wines.

Salmon ala Wally's Desert Turtle

Salmon ala Wally’s Desert Turtle

To learn more about the wines from Anjou and Saumur, stop by and visit posts from our group:

Alice from The Wine Culturist will be joining us and sharing her perspective from South America

David of Cooking Chat shares “Asparagus Chicken Bow Tie Pasta with Anjou Blanc Wine”

Jeff from Food Wine Click tempts us with “Seafood Brochettes with the Wines of Anjou & Saumur”

Jill from L’Occasion shares “5 Things I learned about the Loire Wines from a Bottle of Rose”

Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog gives us “A Taste of Loire: Saumur-Champigny #Winophiles”

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog shares “Diving into Loire Valley #wine with #Winophiles: Anjou”

May 21st – Touraine/Vouvray

June 18th  – Upper Loire – Cheverny, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume/Pouilly-Sur-Loire

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