Vines love valleys.
Rivers moderate summer temperatures and provide fertile alluvial soil from a history of floods. Valley slopes drain vineyards quickly and give them a sunny aspect. Valleys are a kind of “Goldilocks feature” for vines; giving light, heat, hydration, and nutrition that is just right for producing great wine. The two valleys of French wine, the Loire and the Rhone valleys, exemplify this.
Moving from north to south, the Loire Valley is first. The Loire is France’s longest river, stretching from its source in the Massif Central to the Bay of Biscay at Saint-Nazaire. In its upper reaches, the Loire is home to some of France’s finest Sauvignon Blancs.
Touraine produces Sauvignon Blanc that has all the quality, but not the reputation and the associated price tag, of neighbouring Sancerre. It’s Touraine flint bedrock that gives the wine it’s characteristic minerality. The more flint there is in the soil of a vineyard, the more of this desirable minerality the wine will have. And the vineyards of Domaine des Corbillieres is positively strewn with these flints.
Domaine des Corbillieres is run by Dominique Barbou, whose family has operated the winery since the early 20th century. Dominique is responsible for Domaine des Corbillieres Touraine Sauvignon Blanc: a crisp combination of citrus acidity, gooseberry, pear and lychee aromas and a herbaceous palate. The complexity and balance of this wine no doubt prompted Robert Parker to write that Domaine des Corbillieres produces “some of the consistently finest, not to mention best value, Sauvignon Blancs on the planet”. Domaine des Corbillieres Sauvignon Blanc is beautiful on its own but would be the perfect partner for Loire valley goats cheese like Sainte-Maure de Touraine or Selles-Sur-Cher.
Just as Domaine des Corbillieres provides a better value alternative to neighbouring Sancerre wines, Domaine Charavin offers an efficient replacement for Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhone valley.
A 30-minute drive northeast Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine Charavin is located in the village of Rasteau. Rasteau enjoys the geology and weather of the Rhone valley with sandy clay soils and the cooling touch of the Mistral.
Domaine Charavin is operated by the Charavin family. Didier Charavin took over from his father in 1985. He started producing his own wines instead of supplying the local cooperative. The popularity of his Côtes du Rhône AOC “Lou Paris” is testament to the success of this decision. “Lou Paris” is a blend of almost all of the grapes typical of the south of France: Carignan, Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. The resulting wine is ripe, spicy and structured, with plenty of succulent brambly fruit flavours. “Lou Paris” is an incredibly adaptable wine and goes with almost any food.
If you want to see for yourself why vines love valleys, drop into Arnotts or our shop in Mullingar from Monday 23rd of October to taste Domaine Charavin Côtes du Rhône AOC “Lou Paris” and Domaine des Corbillieres Sauvignon Blanc.