Domaine de la guilloterie in Saumur-Champigny of the Loire Valley. (Photo from Domaine de la Guilloterie)
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The Loire Valley, which stretches for 1,000 kilometers through northern France, is one of the country's most varied wines regions, partly due to its expansive geography.For most locals (and Parisiens), the valley is seen as a red wine region producing wines to be drunk young.Of the Loire's red grapes the predominant – and best – is cabernet franc.Cabernet franc is the third grape of Bordeaux, where it is blended with cabernet sauvignon and merlot, though in the prestigious villages of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion on the Right Bank it is highly regarded. Talented young winemaker Arnault Couly, at Chinon property Couly-Dutheil, was one of the first to stress this, as well as the need to minimize the use of oak. For his flagship wines from Clos de l'Echo and Clos de l'Olive, which need at least four years to be approachable, and can age for at least 20 depending on vintage conditions, he uses no oak at all. Styles range from fresh and fruity, suitable for chilling, to deeper, earthy and more full-bodied wines which can develop for at least 10 years.
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