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France_Loire_Touraine

Touraine is a huge mass of land and can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It is like a microcosm of the Loire Valley in that within the area of Touraine AOC there can be found all examples of Loire wine. Red, white and sparkling all stake a claim in the Touraine. Almost 40 million bottles are made every year  but an overwhelming number of them are nothing more than industrial swill. But for every ten estates producing high-yield watery Gamay and inocuous Sauvignon Blanc there is a gem like the Clos Roche Blanche. So one needs to choose carefully but one will be rewarded with ample, delicious, food-friendly wines that are tremendous values. 

This does not cover AOC's within Touraine like Chinon, Bourgeuil or Vouvray but covers wines from the 5,300 ha acres of vineyards from Samur all the way to Blois, where Cour-Cheverny is. The labeling can be complex as some vignerons choose not to abide by the AOC laws (which can be quite counterintuitive) and label their wines simply as Vin de Table. Thierry Puzelat is famous for doing this. Technically to make white Touraine the blend can be Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Chenin or Arbois (but only if Chardonnay is only 20% of the blend). Kind of wacky, I know. For reds they can be Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris, Grolleau and Cot. They can have one of these grapes or all of them. 

A very important thing in Touraine is producer, producer, producer. It is just as important in Touraine AOC as it is in Burgundy because there are many types of producers making many types of wine all for different reasons. From industrial swill conglomerates like Sauvion to artisanal, eccentric producers like Clos de Tue Bouef there is a mish mosh of quality in the Touraine so producer is by far the most important thing on the label.

There are actually four appellations within the Touraine AOC with the most famous being Touraine Azay-Le-Rideau, whilst the other three, Touraine-Noble Joue, Touraine-Amboise and Touraine-Meslund are rarely if ever seen in the United States. Touraine-Meslund is famous for Cabernet Franc and Cot based wines that can be big and rich in ripe vintages and lean and mean in unripe vintages. The wines of Touraine-Amboise can be lighter than Touraine-Meslund and are based on the same red grape along with Gamay. The Touraine Noble Joue was created in 2001 for rose wines made from Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. 

The most popular grapes for the Touraine appellation are Sauvignon Blanc and Gamay. Clos Roche Blanche's Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite value Sauvignon Blanc from anywhere. It has a lovely mineral component as well as classic grassy and citrus aromas. A great wine and always between $12-$16 depending on what market you are in. Clos Roche Blanche also makes a wonderful age-worthy Gamay that is a favorite among wine geeks. 

Typically these wines got from $10-$20 a bottle and wines from top producers are particularly great values. 

Notable Recent Vintages: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008

Top Producers (in no particular order) include: 
  • Clos du Tue Bouef (Thierry Puzelat)
  • Clos Roche Blanche
  • Henri Marionnet (Domaine de la Charmoise)
  • Domaine du Moulin (Herve et Isabelle Villemande)
  • Noella Morantin
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