The Loire is by far the easiest wine region to get to from Ireland by car as driving from either Roscoff or Cherbourg to Angers takes under four hours.
The Loire is one of the few French regions that offers white, rosé, red, sparkling and dessert wines. Admittedly red wines here tend to be lighter and with a more herbaceous character but I have always loved the red fruit freshness of Cabernet Franc-based Anjou-Villages, Chinon or Saumur, especially for drinking in warmer months.
The Loire wine regions begin with fresh zingy Muscadet to the south of Nantes and moving east you enter Chenin and Cab-Franc country in Anjou until you hit Tours and Vouvray. From then Sauvignon Blanc dominates but I confess I get more excited by Chenin than Sauvignon.
Emmanuel Ogereau of Domane Ogereau just south of Angers visited Dublin recently and I tasted my way through his range at his importers — Terroirs in Donnybrook. Emmanuel is the fifth generation at the Domaine and his wines show typicité and character. We began with his lemon zest scented Crémant de Loire Beau de Schinstes which is 80/20 Chenin/Chardonnay. Some Loire fizz is rather tight and dry but this was expansive, fragrant and full-flavoured with good underlying chalky touches.
His two dry whites feature below and I also liked his blackcurrant leaf and red fruit scented Anjou Villages les Tailles (€23.50), and his fuller fruited Cabernet-Sauvignon based Côte de la Houssaye.
Dessert wines are a difficult sell which is a pity given the pleasures they can offer. Ogereau’s Côteaux du Layon (€26.50) had honeyed lemon-pie richness but perfect contrasting acidity; his intense Quarts-de-Chaume (€59.50) showed full botrytis character on the nose — a kind of floral-honey scent tinged with decay — and mouth filling rich dried sweet fruits.
Exploring the sweeter wines of the Coteaux du Layon is best done in situ as few are imported here so if you do make it I recommend you have lunch in the Auberge du Cheval Blanc in Thouracé.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Aldi Exquisite Muscadet, Loire, France — €8.49
Bougrier Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, Loire, France — €12.99-13.99
Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, Domaine de la Vinçonnière 2015 — €15.95
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Domaine Ogereau Anjou en Chenin 2015 — €22.95
Domaine Ogereau Savennières Le Clos Grand Beaupréau 2014, Loire — €29.50
Pensée du Pallus Chinon 2013, Loire — €23.95
Aldi Exquisite Muscadet, Loire,France — €8.49