Pairing Loire Wines with Fish
By Master of Wine, Christopher Burr
The most famous wines from the Loire are white, from the villages of Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire where the famous Pouilly Fume comes from.
The trouble is that even though these wines are generally great, because they are well known they are always very expensive, generally from £12 upwards. However, the wine making in the Loire in less well-known regions and villages has improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years.
Whether that's because of global warming and warmer vintages, or whether it is from some tough competition from New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, who knows? But I would argue that there is some great value now in less well-known Loire wines, and some of the reds are delicious as well, and make a lovely change.
I tasted a range of Loire wines this week, and these are really worth trying;-
From Majestic Wines; The Haut Poitou Sauvignon Blanc 2019, at £8.99, lovely fresh zingy wine, grown on the limestone soils just south of Poitiers. Lots of citrus, ripe lime and grapefruit aromas, crisp, bright and refreshing on the palate and good class for a lesser-known appellation.
Also, from Majestic for £7.99 is their single Domaine Muscadet. Domaine De La Tourmaline is from the best part of the Atlantic end of the Loire, the Sevre et Maine, is fermented and left on its yeast lees to add further richness and complexity, then bottled to keep the fresh, bright, crisp, lemony fruitiness.
I don't know if you have noticed, but there is lots of great fish and shellfish at great prices appearing on some supermarket shelves at present. Maybe it is that British fishermen are having trouble selling their fish to the French these days, but the two French wines above pair brilliantly with crabs, lobsters, mussels, oysters and all sorts of grilled or poached fish. They are gastronomically perfect for each other, just like squeezing a ripe lemon over your fish.
The Loire has also become a great place to find light and fruity reds. Now ripe and round, whereas years ago they tended often to be a bit tart and leafy. Some nice ripening summers and better viticulture have made all the difference, and it is a great place to find good Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, which has a lovely berry brightness.
These wines also go well with grilled fish for those who prefer red wine. They are also great with light meats like chicken and pork, or with cold meat salads. I can heartily recommend a red Saumur from Waitrose.
Les Nivieres, Saumur Rouge 2018 is £9.99. A lovely succulent bright cranberry fruit Cabernet Franc, with a juicily delicious and full-bodied mid-palate. It makes a lovely change, and particularly with warmer summer days coming along, it is best served slightly fresh to bring out the juicy fruit.
Christopher Burr, MW,
13th May 2021