Sauvignon push for Loire

10 April, 2009

The Loire valley's Touraine AOC and Vins de Pays du Val de Loire have teamed up to target their Sauvignon Blanc wines at the UK market, in what organisers believe is a first for France.

The project aims to double the volumes of wine from each of the appellations sold in the UK each year - to 30,000hl for Touraine and 40,000hl for Vins de Pays du Val de Loire - over three years.

"We probably have one of the best quality to price relationships for the Sauvignon Blanc grape," said senior project manager Noël Bougrier, who noted that the project's research has found that

consumers know the Loire valley as a holiday destination but are not so

aware of its wines.

"What is very important for us in the first year is to make an increase in the quality and in the real style of the UK market," he said.

Winemaking consultant and former M&S buyer Sam Harrop MW, originally from New Zealand, has come on board to help producers boost quality in vineyards and wineries and encourage best practice.

He said: "It is about trying to challenge more and more producers to aspire to export great quality wine. Rather than encouraging negociants and retailers to buy more, there is an acknowledgement that it needs to start with quality in the first instance.

"We don't want producers to make Kiwi cuvée, we want them to make

wines that are balanced and have got different styles," he added.

A team of UK-focused tasters, including Sarah Ahmed, Jim Budd and Joe Wadsack, have selected 29 wines to be the "ambassadors" of the 2008 vintage to the UK.

Producers include Ackerman-Rémy Pannier, Château de Fontenay and Eric Chevalier.

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