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Loire: Sauvignon superstar in Touraine

Par Vitisphere Le 17 août 2010
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Loire: Sauvignon superstar in Touraine

n the current process of reforming its specifications and recommendations, the Loire region finds itself at the centre of a debate between two of its flagship white grape varieties: Sauvignon and Chenin. Indeed, the AOC appellation Touraine, which is made up of over 5,000 hectares in Indre-et-Loire and Loir-et-Cher, under the presidency of Alain Godeau (winemaker at Les Caves du Pere Auguste), announced two reforms to better facilitate consumer understanding.
Firstly, two new top-quality AOC appellations will be created: ‘Touraine Chenonceaux’ (red and white) and ‘Touraine Oisly’ (white only). Secondly, and more importantly, the red and white grape varieties allowed will be restricted. For the whites, Touraine wine can now only come from the sauvignon grape, and no longer from the chenin variety. For the reds, there will be two ‘profiles’. One consisting of minimum 85% Gamay, and the other, more structured, with a minimum of 50% Côt. For the rosés, all grape varieties are allowed, but only in blends. The idea has provoked criticism from some observers, who do not agree with excluding chenin, an iconic Loire grape, in favour of sauvignon, a grape which is common in the Loire but also has a large presence in other regions of the world. The project echoes back to the ‘Loire Sauvignon’ communal marketing campaign, the result of an agreement between the trade unions of the Touraine AOC and Vins de Pays du Val de Loire. ‘‘No connection whatsoever’’, said Alain Godeau, president of the Touraine AOC trade union, ‘‘This AOC reform had begun before the signing of the ‘Loire Sauvignon’ agreement". 
Moreover, Alain Godeau backed up the project, stating that chenin only represented a little over 10% of the AOC grapes for still wine, and sauvignon is clearly in the majority. ‘‘We use the chenin variety for the fine bubbles, but 75% of the appellation’s winemakers don’t produce chenin wines’’. He added that the appellation wanted to prevent producers from taking commercial advantage of the possible confusion between Sauvignon in IGP Val-de-Loire and AOP Touraine wines. ‘‘We want to allow consumers to easily identify our AOC product as a wine from the sauvignon variety, whether that consumer be French or not. But despite that we are not sacrificing quality. As from the 2010 harvest, plots producing IGP and AOP grapes will have to be identified from pruning.’’

Meet the AOP Touraine wine producers in the WineAlley Plaza, click here.

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