Cheverny wine appellation
The Cheverny wine appellation in France's Loire Valley is one of the quite achievers of the wine industry in that country. While it does not have the cachet of nearby Sancerre or Pouilly Fume some of the wines produced here are truly exciting and worth seeking out.
It is situated just south of the town of Blois and east of the city of Tours in between the Loire River and the Cher.
Cheverny covers 24 communes and approximately 350 hectares. It sits in the wedge of flat plains between the Loire and Cher rivers and covers the communes of Candé-sur-Beuvron, Cellettes, Cheverny, Chitenay, Cormeray, Cour-Cheverny, Feings, Fougères-sur-Bièvre, Fresnes, Huisseau-sur-Cosson, Maslives, Mont-près-Chambord, Monthou-sur-Bièvre, Les Montils, Montlivault, Muides-sur-Loire, Ouchamps, Saint-Claude-de-Diray, Saint-Dyé-sur-Loire, Saint-Laurent-Nouan, Sambin, Seur, Tour-en-Sologne and Vineuil. It was elevated to AOC status in 1993.
The main red grape varieties are Gamay and Pinot Noir supported by up to 15% of Cabernet Franc and Cot (Malbec). Rose wines are made from Gamay supported by Pineau d'Aunis and Pinot Noir.
White wines must contain between 60% and 85% of Sauvignon Blanc along with some Chardonnay, Menu Pineau and Chenin Blanc.
Cheverny is home to many skilled 'natural' wine makers who have eschewed chemicals and commercial yeasts to return to natural winemaking techniques.
The plains of Cheverny don't give the casual observer much of an idea as to the quality of the grapes that are capable of being produced here. Many people simply drive through on their way to admire the impressive chateaux that dot the landscape.
However, the soils are perfect for the crisp whites and the lively reds which are produced. James E Wilson in his seminal work Terroir says:
"the vineyards are on sparse outcrops of Senonian sandstones interspersed with Tertiary Miocene sands, clays, and freshwater limestone."
Also, Jacques Fanet in his detailed book Great Wine Terroirs says of the soils:
To the east of the Touraine Appellation Regionale area, the Cheverny vineyard occupies a place apart. It extends over Beauce limestone , overlaid by ancient alluvia along the Loire, or by Solonge sands.
Domaine du Moulin
Herve and Isabelle Villemade run this admirable vineyard in the village of Cellettes in the heart of the Cheverny appellation. Here Herve crafts natural wines that are found in all of the best wine bars of Paris. Look in particular for his cuvees - the Pinot and Gamay blend called Les ardilles and the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay blend called La Bodice.
Clos de Tue-Boeuf
Clos de Tue-Bœuf is the domaine of two brothers, Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat. Their Cheverny vineyards lie close to the village of Les Montils (they also have some more vineyards that are in the neighbouring Touraine appellation).
The vineyards are farmed naturally with no pesticides or artificial fertilisers and all the grapes are hand-harvested.