19 July 2014

Touraine Chenonceaux wines — a new Loire appellation

Today we will be tasting our first Touraine Chenonceaux wines. The new appellation has recently been created. It covers the vineyards along the Cher River from Bléré, just west of the village of Chenonceaux, all the way to Saint-Aignan and a couple of villages further east. The vineyards are on both sides of the Cher.

White Touraine Chenonceaux wines are made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes. There's no surprise there. The local AOC whites have been made with Sauvignon Blanc for decades, even centuries, as are the white wines of vineyards to the east of Touraine at Quincy and Sancerre, for example.

Red Touraine Chenonceaux wines are made from an "assemblage" of juices from two grapes. The greatest proportion is Côt, which is the Loire Valley name for the grape known as Malbec internationally. The second grape is Cabernet Franc, which is the grape grown west of our area in wine districts including Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny.

The wines we chose to taste are made by our neighbors at the winery called Le Domaine de La Renaudie. Some of the grapes are probably grown out back in the Renaudière vineyard, where we walk with the dog every day. Domaine de la Renaudie has about 70 acres of vines all around the village of Mareuil-sur-Cher.

Besides Chenonceaux, the other sub-appellations within the Touraine wine district include Touraine-Azay-le-Rideau (west of Tours), Touraine Amboise (along the Loire mostly east of Amboise), and Touraine-Mesland (on the north bank of the Loire near Blois. To the northwest of us, nearer Tours, are Montlouis and Vouvray, famous for their Chenin Blanc white wines. Just to the northeast of us is the Cheverny wine district, and to the south east is the Valençay district.

Here's a link to the Touraine-Chenonceaux web site. It's in French.


  1. I understand that not all the wineries within the geographic boundary of Touraine-Chenonceaux got permission to label as the new AOC, including the winemakers who manage the Chateau of Chenonceau's vineyard (ie the winemaker's own vineyard didn't meet Touraine-Chenonceaux criteria -- something to do with the soil where their vineyard in St Georges sur Cher is -- they were mightily cheesed off). Also the Chateau refused to allow the AOC to be called Touraine-Chenonceau. We've only tried the AOC a couple of times, from another St Georges producer, who I know wasn't very happy with the results and I think might have given up with it. Of course, he's an established Touraine producer anyway, so will just continue as normal. I'm sure the AOC will take off in time, and with the right seaons winemakers will make some excellent vintages, but it does strike me as a marketing tool rather than a serious AOC.

    1. Susan, don't you think all the Touraine sub-appellations are important as marketing tools? That's what the AOC is anyway; it assures customers that they aren't buying something substandard, but a product that meets rigorous standards. It doesn't mean that a customer will like the product, because tastes vary widely. The Touraine-Chenonceaux reds will be different from a lot of the Traditions, which could be made with blends of three grapes — Côt, Cab. Franc, and Gamay. There's no Gamay in the new AOC Chenonceaux. And yes, only grapes from specific vineyard parcels can be used in the Touraine-Chenonceaux wines. The parcels that qualify are supposed to be the ones that produce the best grapes because of their soil, drainage, and exposition to the sun, I reckon.

      Touraine wines didn't have a good reputation until relatively recently. The area can produce very good wines, and anything the vignerons can do to improve then should be a welcome initiative. Chinon, Touraine Sauvignon, and other local wines are standard fare in Paris cafés and a lot of restaurants. I've had the pleasure of drinking wines from several different Mareuil producers in restaurants in Paris, and I've seen them on the shelves at some high-end butcher and grocery stores up there too.

    2. Hi Ken,

      As you already know ;-), I'm a big fan of Loire Valley wines and I'm glad that the Cher region is finally getting the recognition it deserves with the AOC. I like the new label Patricia and Bruno have developped. It's very classy and in line with the quality of the wine.

      Have a nice day, enjoying the wine and the pizzas with L. and her family. Hope the weather will allow you to sit outside. Over here, it is terribly hot and thunderstorms are on their way ... Why do they always strike at night? :(

    3. Hi Martine, the weather did cooperate and we spent a nice afternoon on the terrace sampling the pizzas Walt made. There were several different pizzas, with toppings like diced smoked chicken; sauteed red, green, and yellow bell peppers; ham; mushrooms; mozzarella; emmenthal; Spanish chorizo etc. It was a lot of fun spending time with Lynn, Joel, and daughters.

  2. New appellation is important of course but the most important is the taste of wine. Cheers.!!!

  3. Cool info :) As Martine said, I hope you're enjoying today with your visitors and your new wine :)

  4. The verdict: the Touraine Chenonceaux wines we tasted were very good — especially the red, which was supple and silky as advertised. It was also rich and berry-flavored, as Côt wines can be. The white was less citrusy than a lot of Touraine Sauvignons are, and you either enjoy the citrus or you don't. I do. The Chenonceaux red compared favorably to a Saumur-Champigny that our friends brought us.


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