The Loire Valley serves up history, architecture and gastronomy in ample helpings. It has a mild climate, a gentle landscape and the softest light in France. It is also close at hand and has a full range of wine styles and tastes - in fact something for everyone.
The Loire has five principal grape varieties - Muscadet, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc for white wine; Cabernet Franc and Gamay for red. The Chenin can make wonderful diamond dry wines like Savennières and Jasnières (who's heard of these?), sublime sweet wines such as Bonnezeaux and Coteaux du Layon, and sparkling wines so good that many champagne producers now own properties in Saumur. Sauvignon Blanc produces the more famous wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé - aromatic and mouth-wateringly evocative of blackcurrant leaves and gooseberries. Most top-quality red, such as Chinon and Saumur-Champigny comes from the Cabernet Franc.
The history of 3D Wines is inextricably linked to the Loire Valley, for the seeds of our love of France, its food, and of course its wines, were sown here way back in the 1980s. With the help of Hugh Johnson's Wine Companion, we sought out recommended winemakers producing wine with strange names, often from deeply unfashionable places. We liked the wines, we liked the winemakers, and we loved the whole French experience.
The 3D Wines 'rent a row' system was launched in 1992 with Saumur-Champigny from Jean-Luc Mary at Domaine de la Cune near Saumur (our 2006 Trophy winner at the International Wine Challenge). Others soon followed, and by 1995 other Loire winemakers who had joined the 'club' included: André Sorin (Coteaux du Layon), Pierre Caslot (Bourgueil), Jean-Claude Mabileau (St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil), Pierre Riffault (Sancerre) and Georges Bureau (Anjou).
In 1996, in response to an increasing demand for more 'special' wines, Jean-Claude Mabileau at La Jarnoterie produced our first exclusive Loire wine, a St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil named Cuvée Carine in honour of his daughter. The popularity of this approach has since led to many more exclusive cuvées being made for us at many of our other vineyards, including our Saumur-Champigny Les 3 Jean and Sancerre Les Caillottes.