This Monthly Digest is sponsored by Loire Valley Wine http://loirevalleywine.com/
In June 2019, I partnered up with Loire Valley Wines to explore this region both on the ground in France and at a number of exciting Loire events held across London. This was my first (I'm sure of many!) visits to the Loire. I travelled to the city of Tours on the Eurostar (via Paris) which took just over 4 hours and I spent 3 wonderful days exploring Anjou, Saumur and Touraine. The Loire is a magical region: it produces vibrant, fresh and characterful wines, and offers travellers stunning landscapes filled with dreamy historical châteaux (I visited the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty!), delicious hearty and sumptuous local food and extremely warm and welcoming locals. Until next time...
LOIRE - 3 WINES TO TRY
This month, I've got a sparkling Crémant de Loire, a dry white Muscadet and a Sweet wine from Coteaux de l'Aubance in Anjou for you to try!
Made in the same method as Champagne, this sparkling Crémant offers lots of lively fruit, with some delicious biscuity notes and a very pleasant rounded structure. Enjoy for celebrations, pair with seafood and fish, and at this price - keep a bottle in the fridge for an impromptu mid-week drink!
Muscadet wines are dry, easy, light and refreshing white wines, with citrus notes and are reminiscent of the sea. The appellation of Muscadet-Sevre et Maine produces wines with more concentration, and those left sur lie (on the lees) have more texture, roundness and creaminess on the palate. Give this one a go and pair with a seafood platter, simple fresh grilled fish or light, creamy seafood pastas. Yum!
I discovered the sweet appellation of Coteaux de l'Aubance while travelling in the Loire. This appellation makes some stunning sweet wines made from the Chenin Blanc grape. They are a little more tricky to get hold of in the UK compared to their more famous (and usually more expensive) neighbouring appellation of Coteaux du Layon. If you like your sweet wine packed with exotic fruits, honey and floral notes, then this is the wine for you.
THE LOIRE: A CHEF'S PERSPECTIVE...
This June, I'm delighted to introduce... Neil Gander, Executive Chef at Humble Grape Wine Bars and my first recipe contributor! Neil fell in love with the Loire last year and offers his insights on the region:
"...Last Summer, I spent a couple of weeks cycling from Nantes to Pouilly-sur-Loire along the banks of this long and enchantingly lazy river. What strikes you most, is the fantastic fresh produce growing everywhere in the stretch from Angers, through Tours and up to Blois - otherwise mostly know as 'Le Jardin de France'. Any visit to an épicerie or one of the prolific chalk caves throughout Touraine, turns up classical French cooking and superbly crafted wines made by charming people. From the refreshing, yet structured Cabernet Francs of the vineyards on the banks of the Vienne, to the heady quince-powered rollercoaster that is Vouvray, there is so much to go at. In homage to this region of great, rustic French cuisine I wanted to showcase a classic Loire recipe that I love. So pack up that wicker picnic hamper, put on your knotted hanky and head down to the banks of the mighty Loire!…"
Neil Gander, Executive Chef at Humble Grape Wine Bars
CRÉMANT DE LOIRE BRAISED BABY LEEKS
Neil has put together the most gorgeous recipe for us this month. Pair Neil's Crémant de Loire Braised Baby Leeks with the rest of the bottle of Crémant (the recipe only requires a small glass!) or with other dry Loire white wines such as my Muscadet recommendation above or with a Touraine Sauvignon Blanc.
For two people:
1 bunch of baby leeks (roughly 8 to 10) – trimmed
10ml of sunflower oil
1 knob of salted french butter
2 scallion shallot – finely diced
1 garlic clove – minced
1 sprig of Thyme
125ml Crémant de Loire
1 tsp good quality Dijon mustard
A few sprigs of Chervil
1 free range egg – hard boiled, cooled and peeled
Sea salt and freshly crack black pepper
Step 1: Trim the root from the baby leeks. Then give them a good wash in lots of running cold water. Step 2: In medium sauté pan heat sunflower oil. Gently fry diced shallot for a few minutes until it becomes translucent. Add garlic and sprig of thyme, fry for another minute or two. Step 3: Add your leeks to the pan and continue to cook until they start to soften. Depending on the size of the leeks this could be between 3 to 5 mins. Step 4: Increase the heat in the pan to high and pour in your glass of Crémant. Let the alcohol evaporate. Step 5: Take out the sprig of thyme and discard it. Take the leeks out and lay out flat on a hot plate. Step 6: Into the pan of liquid, add the mustard, butter and a pinch of chopped parsley, season and whisk into the sauce until it emulsifies. Step 7: Spoon the wine sauce over the leeks. Step 8: Grate the hard-boiled egg over and add a few picked chervil leaves.