The program will be composed of the following 16 live webinars.
This is, in scope and design, the most comprehensive wine study program on the Loire Valley bar none. Through this program, students will acquire a profound knowledge of the region and develop a greater sensory understanding of its wines.
1. Loire: the Idea of North: Andrew Jefford
We will explore the appeal of the Loire via its incarnation as a 'northern' (i.e. cool-climate, high latitude) appellation par excellence. Why is it that this profile exerts such an appeal on drinkers? What kind of wine qualities do drinkers associate with 'the idea of north'? And how do those relate to the Loire's own specificities? Just how 'northerly' will the Loire's vineyards seem in 50 or 100 years? Might it ever become 'the new Bordeaux' or ''the new Burgundy'?
2. Digging deeply into the soils: Chris Kissack
In this webinar we will explore the geology of the Loire Valley. We will move through the granitic vineyards of the Massif Central, across the great limestone appellations of the region, into the ancient rocks of the Massif Armoricain and the Nantais. We look at the origin of these different rocks and how they influence the varieties that are grown and the style of the wine that is made.
3. Viticultural history of the Loire: Pascaline Lepeltier
Understanding the wines of any region requires an exploration of its history and the Loire Valley is no exception. It experienced key historical episodes that shaped the style of its wines: the influence of the different religious orders; multiple wars between France and England for control of the region; important commercial exchanges between Britain and the Netherlands. The structure of the region today and the wines that are produced grew from this glorious and complex past.
4. The nature of the Loire: climate, soils, topography and sub-regions: Jim Budd
In this webinar we take a step back to see the rich, complex tapestry that makes up the Loire Valley. We travel along the 600 miles of the Loire, and meet the most famous appellations. We will plunge down from its mountain source and follow the gentle slopes down to the Atlantic. We will explore how the soils and climate shift along our journey. We will leave understanding why the Loire is capable of such diversity.
5. Pays Nantais: Jo Landron
In this webinar, we will take a deep dive into the vineyards of the Pays Nantais. We will look at the historical ups and downs of the region and discover the exciting renaissance that is happening. We will look at the journey from being a bulk market region to one where the distinct, characterful identities of the Muscadet vineyards are emerging, championed by a new wave of dedicated and passionate producers.
6. Anjou Noir: Pascaline Lepeltier
The Anjou subregion is the most complex of the Loire Valley, with a number specific terroirs, usually defined as Anjou Noir and Anjou Blanc. In this first webinar on the sub-region, we will delve into Anjou Noir. Found in the west, this region is historically known for exceptional chenin botrytis-affected dessert wines. We will explore the geography and terroirs, assess how noble rot affects the styles of wines, and discuss why rosé is still the dominant production of the area.
7. Touraine: Damien Delecheneau
Touraine reflects the diversity of the Loire, with dry to sweet wines, still and sparkling wines, and red, rosé and white wines. In this webinar we explore the reasons why this sub-region can do it all and discuss the exciting changes that are seeing some of the less known appellations, including the fascinating Loire Valley, come into their own.
8. Anjou Blanc - le Saumurois: Pascaline Lepeltier
In this webinar, we head to the eastern part of Anjou to study the tuffeau and flint based soils from the Turonian time. These soils were quarried extensively to build the castles of the Loire and this, along with a naturally high capacity for water retention, offer superb underground caves perfect for wine production. The caves are a key factor in the stylistic expression of the wines of this region, where we find chenin with less botrytis and a higher acid profile that yields great bone dry whites and sparkling wines and the cabernet franc is vinified as superb, age-worthy reds.
9. Centre Loire Overview: Benoit Roumet
Although the smallest of the sub-regions, the Centre Loire is home to two of the most famous appellations of the Loire : Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. It’s also the region where sauvignon blanc rules. In this webinar, we look at the long history of the region and look at how the soils and the micro-climates of the region give rise to many very specific expressions of sauvignon blanc.
10. Upper Loire: Pascaline Lepeltier
Often overlooked, and not necessarily attached to the Loire Valley, these appellations lie closer to the source of the river in the Massif Central than any other. We will learn how this once much more planted region went into decline after phylloxera and the important rural exodus. Scattered at different altitudes on the foothills and the slopes of the volcanos of the Massif Central, we will study the different personalities of the Côtes d'Auvergne, du Forez, Côte Roannaise, Chateaumeillant and Saint-Pourçain and why this region is one of the most exciting right now!
11. Future in the Loire - Viti Vini: Benoit Roumet
In this webinar we explore the current trends and pressures that will shape the future of grape growing and wine making in the Loire. We will look at how global warming and changing weather patterns are driving changes. We will look at the increasing numbers of organic and biodynamic producers and what this means in the vineyards, in the winery and in the bottle. We will look at the trend to more collective work with the goal of improving quality. We will discuss whether we can expect new appellations to be established. In short, we will dive into the topics that the Loire Valley professionals are discussing today.
12. Loire, epicenter of the natural wine movement: Alice Feiring
The natural wine movement originated in the Beaujolais in the late 70s, but took wing when the Loire got involved in the 1990s. In this webinar, we will explore the conditions that made it possible, will be introduced to the local gurus, and how the proliferation of the local wine fairs helped to spread the world of natural wine to other regions and countries. We will leave with a solid picture of how the tremendous density of winemakers working in natural and has remained a vibrant, active and powerful heartbeat for the movement, came to be.
13. Loire Economics: Benoit Roumet
The Loire Valley’s diversity in wine is well known. In this webinar, we look at the diversity of its economics. We will examine the key figures for each region and learn about key economic developments and how each sub-region organizes itself.
14. Loire & Food: Veronique Rivest
One of France’s most spread out wine regions, the Loire boasts a wide array of grape varieties and wine styles, offering endless possibilities at the table. In this webinar, we go on an exploration of the defining features of these very food friendly wines and how they interact with foods.
15. Nicolas Joly and biodynamics: Nicolas Joly
Based by the belief that “life doesn't belong to the earth; the earth receives life because it is a member of the solar system”, biodynamic farming is growing in the Loire Valley. Nicolas Joly has inspired many along that path and in this webinar, he will discuss his commitment, his approach and the wines.
16. Parcellaires & Crus: Pascaline Lepeltier
Unlike other major French wine regions, the Loire Valley - with the exception of some of the great dessert appellations in Anjou - has no real cru system. In this webinar we will exam the recent and ongoing work of some appellations to map their terroirs to build a better understanding of the quality of their vineyards and wines. We will learn about the result of these studies pull in information from other webinars and discuss the emerging picture and what it means for the future.