CAPS asked notable sommeliers from coast to coast to identify the fresh ‘in bloom’ flavours they discover in their favourite Loire AOP and provide their favourite Loire and picnic, barbecue, or beach bonfire pairings. Drink in the summer with Loire wines paired with seasonal fare!
The Sommelier: Lesley Quinn, StellarSomm, Best Sommelier of Atlantic Canada 2017
The Appellation: Rosé D’Anjou
AOP Key Varietals: Grolleau Noir, but may also include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Malbec, and Pineau d'Aunis.
The Pairing: Arugula, Strawberry, and Goat Cheese Salad
According to Lesley Quinn “for me the perfect summertime Loire AOP is the Rosé D’Anjou. It uses mainly the Grolleau grape and crafts an off-dry style of pink wine that fills the glass with strawberry and wild rose aromas. My family were strawberry farmers here in PEI (Prince Edward Island) so this wine conjures up memories of sitting in the shade on a summer day hulling the tops off the berries. My favourite pairing with the wine is an arugula, strawberry, and goat cheese salad with a thick balsamic vinaigrette on top. Loire Valley wines paired with goat cheese tend to work well as the region produces 70 per cent of all of France’s goat cheese. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t sat down and simply enjoyed the wine with a bowl of freshly picked PEI strawberries too.”
The Sommelier: Justin Madol, Don Alfonso 1890, Best Sommelier of Ontario 2022
The Appellation: Vouvray Demi-Sec
AOP Key Varietals: Chenin Blanc
The Pairing: Glazed Golden Beets, Goat Cheese, Field Greens and Honey Vinaigrette
Wines, such as Vouvray Demi-Sec with their fresh mouth-watering acidity perfectly offset with the slightest hint of sweetness that keeps the palate feeling light in the summer heat. This wine style’s impression of ripe orchard fruit, wildflower meadows and hints of honey give the feeling of countryside fields under the sun.
Pair Vouvray Demi-Sec with the bounties of summer found in a salad with glazed golden beets, goat cheese, field greens, and a honey vinaigrette. The brightness of Vouvray easily matches the freshness of the greens and balances the creaminess of the cheese while the off-dry character serves as counterpoint to the earthy bitterness of the beets.
The Sommelier: Seema Pal, Best Sommelier of Manitoba 2023
The Appellation: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Gorges
AOP Key Varietals: Melon de Bourgogne
The Pairing: Strawberry Spinach Salad with Herb Smoked Chicken
There is a wine from the extensive Loire Valley for every wine lover. The Loire Valley offers a plethora of wine styles that ranges from dry to sweet, simple to complex, and fruity to savoury.
One of my favourite appellations in the Loire Valley is Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Gorges in the Pays Nantais region, nestled along the La Sèvre river. The wines have a beautiful balance of fruit and savoury notes. While there are expected citrus and fresh tree fruit characteristics, what is truly special with the wines from this appellation is that one can truly taste the soil and the sea, giving these wines a true sense of place. This wine possesses hints of minerality with a touch of smokiness from the green volcanic rock (called “gabbros”), delicious autolytic flavours of biscuit and brioche from the extended sur lie aging, and a distinct saline character from the sea breezes from the Atlantic Ocean.
The wines from Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Gorges AOC remind me of what I love most about summer – the delicious food pairings. My favourite pairing with these wines would be a strawberry spinach salad topped with herbed smoked chicken. The strawberry salad is a perfect hallmark of summer with ripe flavours and racy acidity that will complement the levels found in the wine, and its savoury and smoky notes pair beautifully with the similar flavours found in the chicken. For those who are looking for something you can sip on while enjoying the heat, but with a bit more substance and complexity, this wine is ideal.
The Sommelier: Kelcie Jones, Best Sommelier of British Columbia 2023
The Appellation: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Clisson
AOP Key Varietals: Melon de Bourgogne
The Pairing: Shrimp Toast
I love that cru Muscadet packs both power and delicacy at the same time. The wines of Clisson hold all the signatures of Muscadet such as refreshing acidity, salty oceanic minerality, bright citrusy fruit, but presents them in such an elegant and commanding package. All these flavours- the freshness of ocean breeze, squeezing juicy lemons, salty rocks underfoot— feel and taste of summer and Muscadet in tandem.
As far as food pairing, Muscadet from Clisson has a lick of saltiness that pairs seamlessly with shrimp toast. This classic dim sum dish has a crunchy fried exterior for the fresh acidity of Muscadet to pierce, yet a soft and delicate shrimp and egg flavour complimented perfectly by the lees-y, toasty flavour of the wine.