CAPS asked some of current and past regional and national presidents, to match Loire Valley wines with the earthy, nuanced character flavours of autumn. Loire Valley wines can be served from start to finish. For instance, the bright mineral-edged flavours of the coastal wines of Muscadet can beautifully highlight a salad featuring autumnal root vegetables or cut the richness of a creamy butternut squash soup. Or try one of the region’s delightful sparkling wines matched with shellfish dishes accompanied by savoury fall vegetables and herbs.
Imagine a plate of roasted duck with a berry compote alongside a glass of Cabernet Franc from Saumur-Champigny. Or perhaps compliment the tannic structure of Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil with lamb. Vegetarians need to not worry, as the region’s rich Chenin Blanc wines would pair well with a goat cheese tart with caramelized onions, as the wine's acidity cuts through the creaminess of the cheese, and its minerality complements the sweetness of the onions. Alternatively serve a fruity Cabernet Franc-based Chinon with a nut-based loaf topped with vegan gravy.
Finally, the sweet wines of the region are some of the region’s most adept. Whether it is a complementary classic such as pumpkin pie, or the contrast of a tangy salty blue cheese inspired dessert matched with a sweet Chenin Blanc-based wine, the Loire Valley has you covered from start to finish.
The Sommelier: Tom Firth, Culinaire Magazine, Alberta Beverage Awards, Beverage Judge, Freelance Drinks Writer, President CAPS Alberta
The Appellation: Crémant de Loire
AOP Key Varietals: Chenin Blanc
The Pairing: Seared Scallops and Bitter Greens
Crémant de Loire is wonderfully popular in Alberta as it continually delivers versatility, complexity, and much needed bubbles – at a fantastic price. Despite being several hundred kilometers from the ocean. We are lucky to have access to quite a lot of quality seafood, and there is nothing quite like finely seared scallops with some local greens, and perhaps a roaring fire nearby while the weather gets cold. The mineral-leaning wines of Crémant de Loire draw out the salinity of the scallops and greens, but also provided a compliment to the dish- without overwhelming the delicacy either.
The Sommelier: Mark Taylor, President CAPS BC
The Appellation: Savennières
AOP Key Varietals: Chenin Blanc
The Pairing: Autumn Gnocchi
We just launched our new fall menu which includes an Autumn Gnocchi. This rich and savoury dish is full of many of my favourite fall ingredients including butternut squash and sage brown butter. In this case we top the dish with walnuts and oat crumbs for extra texture and flavour. When I recommend a wine to go with this dish, I often suggest a Savennières from the Loire Valley. The Chenin Blanc-based wines of this appellation have an intensity of flavour
capable of holding up the rich flavours of this dish. They also boast crisp acidity along with
which keeps your palate quenched and keen for the next rich bite. All in all, it’s a fantastic pairing inspired by fall flavour.
The Sommelier: Paul Doucette, President CAPS Atlantic
The Appellation: Chinon
AOP Key Varietals: Cabernet Franc
The Pairing: Cashew Loaf
Chinon is one of those wine regions that just begs to be paired with seasonal autumn cuisine — even for those that enjoy a vegetarian diet! These enchanting wines from the picturesque region of the Loire Valley is a sublime choice to accompany the delectable flavours of a baked cashew loaf with vegan gravy and roasted squash. Their finesse along with alluring aromas of ripe blackberries, cherries, and violets perfectly complements the nutty, earthy notes of the almond loaf. I find as these wines unfold, they unveil a tapestry of flavors, including luscious red fruits, hints of black pepper, and a subtle touch of herbs. The herbal undertones of the Chinon mingle effortlessly with the delicate cashew essence of the loaf along with the savoury depth and umami flavors of the gravy, creating a truly enchanting experience.
As a vegetarian, pescatarian sommelier, I’m a bit of a rarity, and I love surprising relatives who wouldn’t normally skip the meat tray at Thanksgiving with this amazing pairing. This fall, Pour yourself a glass of Chinon, savour every bite of the cashew loaf and let this delightful pairing transport you to the scenic vineyards of the Loire Valley. Santé!
The Somm: Sean Dolenuck, President, CAPS Manitoba
The Appellation: Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil
The Key Varietals: Cabernet Franc
The Pairing: Mustard and rosemary crusted rack of lamb accompanied with green bean almondine (or lentils with tomato and olive)
As the fall season approaches there is something invigorating in the air as we cool down from summer. As the leaves change their colours and descend from the trees, creating that familiar and intoxicating sous-bois aroma. The appellation of Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil sits east to west through the tuffeau forest and brings the magic of Cabernet Franc to the table. Always expressive with elegant violet perfumed aromatics with layered red fruits alongside graphite and district herbal qualities. This pairing "falls" together perfectly with the savory flavours of lamb accompanied with the green vegetables reminiscent of the herbal qualities of the wine. A true romance for the region and your soul this fall. Bring this magic to life as we watch the dancing of seasons change.
The Somm: Mark DeWolf, Past President CAPS National, Editor ASI (Association de la Sommellerie Internationale) Magazine
The Appellation: Coteaux du Layon
The Key Varietals: Chenin Blanc
The Pairing: Phyllo Pastry Bites with Blue Cheese, Apple Jam and Honey
Some of my most memorable wine and food experiences have been with a glass of aged Coteaux du Layon, or one of its prolific sub-appellations such as Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume, in hand. Few wines of the world express as much the remarkable balance of honeyed, botrytis influences richness and acidic verve as these superlative sweet wines. I like these wines, especially the more modern styles, that are less sweet than ones from decades gone by, paired with more savoury desserts, such as phyllo pastry bites filled with local blue cheese (I recommend That Dutchman’s Dragon’s Breath from Economy in Nova Scotia) mixed with toasted pistachios and local apple jam. The latter a flavour I grew up with as my grandparents had wild apple trees on their property that would get transformed every fall into the most delicious crab apple jam. Finally, a little drizzle of local wildflower honey gives the sweetness to transform this dish into a delightful dessert. With a glass of Coteaux du Layon it makes for an emotional connection, bridging memories of my childhood with memories of my favourite sweet wine experiences and connects Canadian and French flavours. Food and wine perfection!