Sauvignon Blanc is usually first on my list as a fan of crisp, refreshing white wines. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is a good affordable, and quaffable option. But did you know that the Lorie Valley in France is the spiritual home of Sauvignon Blanc? What does that mean? Sauvignon Blanc grown in the Loire Valley, specifically the Centre Loire sub-region, produces Sauvignon Blanc wines that express the true characteristics of the grape varietal. So if you want more purity and depth of flavor in your Sauvignon Blanc, try a Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé.
I’ve put together a tasting of Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc and paired them with smoked salmon crostini. After you taste the classic vibrant acidity, along with a core of minerality, herbal, and floral notes that distinguishes Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, I believe you, too, will become a fan.
This month the French Winophiles are exploring Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire Valley and Beyond. Join our Twitter chat Saturday, July 16, 2022, at 11:00 AM ET. (use the hashtag #winophiles to join the chat). Don’t miss more articles on the subject at the bottom of this post.
What Makes Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc Unique
The majority of Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire Valley comes from the Centre Loire, with a cool continental climate. The cooler weather and temperatures result in Sauvignon Blanc, which is characterized by crisp, vibrant and often nervy acidity.
There are three distinct soil types on a base of Kimmeridgian limestone in the Centre Loire:
- Terres Blanches – marl rich in oyster fossils, resulting in wines with bright acidity.
- Silex – flint contributes a gunflint/smoky character to the wines and vivid acidity.
- Caillottes – small limestone pebbles, produce wines with less structure and acidity compared to the other two soil types.
- In addition to these three soil types, alluvial deposits along the river banks display fruit-forward wines.
Noteworthy Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc AOCs
- Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé are the most well known Sauvignon Blanc AOCs in the Centre Loire Valley sub-region. Sancerre has vibrant acidity, minerality, and citrus notes. Pouilly Fumé displays a smoky finish when grown on the flinty soils of the AOC.
- Menetou-Salon has racy acidity, lively minerality, a distinguishing chamomile note, with white floral, citrus, and spice characteristics.
- Quincy exhibits fresh acidity, citrus, acacia blossoms, white pepper, and a hint of menthol.
- Reuilly is noted for its floral, herbal, and concentrated Sauvignon Blanc.
- Touraine in the Middle Loire sub-region is known for producing Sauvignon Blanc, a less expensive option than Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé.
Source Used: Wine Scholar Guild
My Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Notes
2020 Le Coeur de la Reine Sauvignon, Touraine, Loire France
12.5% abv | $19.99 wine.com | 100% Sauvignon Blanc
vineyards: Average age is 30 years. Clay and flint soils.
vinification: Skin maceration for 60% of the cuvée for 6 hours, gentle pneumatic pressing, and a cool maceration for 7 days. Fermentation for 3-4 weeks followed by aging in tanks on the lees.
Pale yellow in color with a green hue. Aromas of lemon, pear, and grassy notes. On the palate, refreshing crisp acidity with lemon, grassy, and mineral flavors. This is the perfect summer sipping wine with appetizers or on its own.
2019 Domaine Philippe Gilbert Menetou-Salon Blanc, Loire France
13.5% abv | $31.99 wine.com | 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyards: Average age is 25-30 years. Kimmeridgian limestone clay soils.
Vinification: Pneumatic, whole cluster pressing, wine ferments spontaneously for 2-3 weeks in stainless-steel and concrete tanks and aged for 10-18 months in stainless-steel and concrete tanks.
Medium straw in color with a green tint. Enticing aromas of citrus and floral. On the palate, vivid acidity with citrus, melon, and flinty notes. A well balanced wine with a depth of flavor and a long finish.
2020 Domaine des Grandes Perrières Sancerre, Loire France
12.5% abv | $34.99 Total Wines | 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyards: Vines are from 3-30 years. Clay with flint soils.
Vinification: Fermentation with native yeast in stainless steel vats and aging on the lees.
Medium straw in color. Bright lemon aromas with subtle mineral and floral notes. On the palate, crisp acidity with flavors of lemongrass, pear, and a lingering minerality and depth of flavor.
2020 J de Villebois Pouilly Fumé, Loire France
13% abv | $33.99 Total Wines | 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyards: Villiers and Barrois Limestones, marls with oyster shells and clay-flint soils.
Vinification: Minimal skin contact before a gentle pneumatic pressing. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 7-15 days followed by aging on the lees in stainless steel tanks for at least 6 months.
Pale straw in color. Fruit forward and smoky aromas. On the palate, racy acidity with citrus, ripe pear and a strong backbone of minerality. An elegant and flavorful example of what Sauvignon Blanc can taste like.
Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, and Créme Fraîche Crostini Paired with Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc is known for being food-friendly with its crisp acidity and minimally oak to no oak vinification. These wines would make fabulous pairings with appetizers, salads, vegetarian dishes, seafood, chicken, and pork dishes.
I made smoked salmon, cucumber, and Crème fraîche crostini to pair with the Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs. Smoked salmon crostini with Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc is a match made in heaven. The coolness of the cucumber amplifies the freshness of the wines. The creamy texture of the Crème fraîche and the rich texture of the smoked salmon counterbalance the acidity in the wines. And finally, the smoked salmon echos the smoky notes found in some of the Sauvignon Blancs.
Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, and Crème Fraîche Crostini
- 18 thin slices baguette
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 oz. cold smoked wild sockeye salmon, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 36 English cucumber, very thinly sliced
- lemon, zested for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Brush the slices with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, edges should be crisp but the middle still soft.
- In a small bowl add the salmon, shallot, thyme leaves, chives, lemon juice, and pepper and stir to combine.
- On each baguette toast, spread a moderately thin layer of crème fraîche. Top with two overlapping slices of cucumber, and a small spoonful of the smoked salmon mixture. Garnish with lemon zest.
More Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire Valley and Beyond from the French Winophiles~
- Camilla is making Vietnamese Summer Rolls with a Sauvignon Blanc from the Pays de la Loire at Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Wendy is whipping up a Shrimp Bisque and a Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux at A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Robin is pouring a Sauvignon Blanc from the small hamlet of Chavignol in Sancerre at Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Jane is Tasting Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc Paired with Smoked Salmon Crostini at Always Ravenous
- Jeff is preparing a Surprise! Sauvignon Blanc from Bourgogne at Food Wine Click!
- Gwendolyn is Comparing 2 French Sauvignon Blanc: Loire vs Bordeaux with Grilled Pesto Stuffed Chicken at Wine Predator
- Katrina is toasting to Let’s Give Some Love to French Sauvignon Blanc… From Bordeaux at Corkscrew Concierge
- Linda is writing about Holy Snails! A Summer Sauv Blanc worth sipping slowly at My Full Wine Glass
- Deanna is frying Sole Meuniere Paired with Sancerre at Wineivore