Lionel Gosseaume, 2022 Update

It is perhaps only natural that it is the most famous appellations of the Loire Valley which secure the greatest number of column inches. These days, even mainstream wine publications carry out the occasional foray into the world of Ligérian wine, and it is never too hard to predict the destination of choice. Savennières. Sancerre. Vouvray. Chinon. And, for the daredevils, the occasional look at Cru Communal Muscadet. And then, in a merry-go-round fashion worthy of the annual Bordeaux primeurs, start back at the beginning and do it all again.

One thing I have learnt during the course of visiting and tasting in the Loire Valley for three decades (yes, call me old, as 2023 brings me to the 30th anniversary of my first ever visit to the region), is that it is outside the most famous appellations that we find some of the region’s most distinctive and memorable wines. Here we find the varietal diversity and – dare I say it – the typically Ligérian idiosyncrasies that make the Loire Valley such an interesting and enjoyable region to tackle.

Lionel Gosseaume

It is easy to dismiss the collection of sub-appellations gathered together under the Touraine umbrella as being of inherently lesser interest, but I find this to be a long way from the truth. I suspect we will see a number of these appellations break away from their Touraine parent one day, just as Clisson and Gorges will surely eventually ditch the association with the generic Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation. And it is in these Touraine sub-appellations that we find growers working with Côt, Menu Pineau, François St Meslier and Pineau d’Aunis, none of which you are ever likely to find planted in Savennières, Sancerre, Vouvray or Chinon. Or Muscadet, for that matter.

Well, truth be told it is still permissible to plant Menu Pineau (under the synonym Orbois) in Vouvray, but I don’t know anyone who has. And we shouldn’t let this fact get in the way of my thesis.

One of the must-follow growers who works with many of these varieties in Touraine is Lionel Gosseaume (pictured above). A vigneron with quite a few successful vintages under his belt, Lionel also just happens to be the president of InterLoire, the interprofessional body representing the majority of appellations downstream of the Central Vineyards (which have their own organisation). Sadly I have not been able to taste with Lionel for a couple of years, courtesy of the Covid-19 travel restrictions which were in place during 2020 and 2021, so I was glad to be able to meet up with Lionel recently, and to taste some of his latest releases.

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