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Loire Valley Wines Wine Appellations Sprinkled Among the Historic Chateaux

The Loire River in France flows through the Touraine region for almost 100 kilometres dotted with many amazing French chateau open to the public and a wonderful location for a holiday. There are 5 AOC wines (Appelations d'origine Controlees - wines of controlled origin and quality) awarded throughout this region: Touraine, Touraine Amboise, Touraine Azay-le-Rideau, Touraine Mesland and the latest being Touraine Noble-Joue awarded its AOC status in 2001. The combination of vineyards and chateau make the Touraine region of the Loire Valley an incredible destination for any wine lover and his or her family.

The Touraine Amboise vineyards totalling 236 hectares are located between Tours and Blois extending along both banks of the Loire. The reds are a wild cherry colour produced from a blend of Gamay Noir and Cabernet and have scents of red fruits. Their palate is sold and full. The whites produced from Chenin Blanc give dry, medium and sweet white wines.

Their straw yellow colour turns gold after 3 to 4 years of cellaring. Their aroma is all quince and honey and they have a supple palate because of the more continental climate that favours late-ripening grape varieties. The roses are light in colour with a bouquet of roses and lilac and are refreshing to taste and suitable for early drinking. It is delightful to combine a day of tasting Touraine Amboise AOC wines with a visit to Chateau Close Luc, Leonardo da Vinci's chateau now a museum with working models of many of his inventions and an amazing interactive park adored by children and Chateau Amboise which is da Vinci's final resting place. The Touraine appellation covering 5,282 hectares differs depending on the terroir on the slopes of the River valleys.

Half the production is red. The Gamay and Cabernet reds are cherry coloured. The Gamay has a strawberry or cherry flavour. They have a dominant fruitiness with discreet tannins and should be drunk within 2 years.

The Cabernet red has a raspberry, green pepper and liquorice fragrance and can be laid down for 2 to 4 years because of its good tannic support. White wines made from Sauvignon produced mainly in the Cher valley are straw yellow in colour and have a floral fragrance with a touch of gooseberry or blackcurrant mingled with traces of spices. On the palate the sauvignon whites are delicately lively. The methode traditionnelle sparkling wines have mouth-filling flavours of brioche and apple. The must see Chateau to visit in the region of this appellation is Chateau Chenonceau which spans the River Cher. The Touraine Azay-le-Rideau is a small region totalling 45 hectares south-west of Tours stretching along the Indre valley between Montbazon and the Loire river producing whites and roses.

The roses are dainty with an aroma of marshmallows, lilac, almond and roses. They are lively and delightful to drink in summer. The white are fresh and have floral and fruit aromas of peach apricot and green apple with a soft mineral edge.

You must visit the spectacular Chateau du Azay-le-Rideau when in this appellation region. The chateau is turreted and surrounded by water which gives amazing reflections for the son et lumiere (light show) held in summer. Touraine Mesland is situated west of Blois, planted on the slopes of the Loire facing Chateau de Chaumont, which holds a spectacular garden festival each summer based on a different theme each year and definitely worth a visit especially if you have children tagging along. The reds have a substantial taste and are the colour of a well-ripened cherry and have complex aromas of very ripe fruits and prunes. The roses sparkle with salmon highlights.

And have a fresh delicate aroma of spices and red fruits. They have a solid palate making them suitable to accompany an entire meal. The whites carry an aroma of pear and spices and are lively and round on the palate. The appellation of Touraine Noble-Joue is only 25 hectares producing a characteristic rose with flower aromas of peony and hyacinth followed by notes of redcurrant, cherry and ripe pear.

The rose palate is round with flavours of morello cherry and a dash of cloves. The chenin blank whites of the five Touraine appellations are all stray-yellow in colour can be cellared for 5 to 15 years. As well as these five AOC wines there is also Vouvray in the Touraine and Cheverney, Cour-Cheverney just South of Blois.

What better way to enjoy these clovely wines than driving through the Loire Valley visiting historic chateaux, maybe a hot-air balloon ride in the morning, gourmet lunch in village bistros, meeting wine and cheese producers sampling their products and returning at night to a friendly inviting boutique chateau hotel. Don't just visit a french chateau - stay in one and truly experience the grandeur of living in a castle in France. You will be amazed.

Make your next holiday a gourmet wine lovers chateau holiday in the beautiful Loire Valley. If you love good wine you will not regret it.

Corina Clemence owns and operates Chateau du Guerinet, near Blois as an exclusive luxury chateau for up to 15 people. http://www.loirechateau.com Rent a castle in France - Hire a french chateau in the Loire Valley. Perfect for visiting chateaux, vineyards and golf courses

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