PARIS (Reuters Life!) - A local wine trader has started a website to promote and sell the wines of France's Loire Valley which lack the international appeal of the better-known Bordeaux, Burgundy or Rhone Valley areas.
Yet the Loire valley, for more than 500 km (311 miles) on both sides along the river from Roanne in central France to Nantes at the Atlantic coast, counts far more vineyards than the famous castles of royalty and nobility which earned the region a place on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.
It includes Muscadet, Bourgeuil, Chinon, Anjou and many other wines made from a large variety of grapes and which have perhaps the common point that they are mostly drunk relatively young and mainly by the French themselves.
And even in France, their popularity is limited and competition fierce with other local and foreign wines in the shops and more than 200 electronic commerce websites.
That hasn't stopped Sebastien Chedozeau starting a website in September exclusively focused on Loire wines.
"During my meetings with vintners, I identified a need to promote the Loire wines, their variety, the know-how of the winemakers, their aromatic quality and the diversity of the regions. Not just marketing for a bottle or some label," Chedozeau told Reuters.
He opened www.vinloireselection.com to put the spotlight on those winemakers who loathe mass production and the use of chemicals, but follow durable development guidelines or other ecological methods. They are mainly independent producers.
So far, there have been a few dozen transactions mainly by clients in the Paris area but soon there will be an English version of the website as well.
"I would like to tell American consumers that the Loire Valley has an extraordinary richness in different ground make-up and grape varieties, of their flavors and scents," he said.
"I would add as a teaser that the best Loire reds use the Cabernet Franc grape which is the same as used in the Chateau Cheval Blanc (a top Saint-Emilion wine)," he said.
"They are wines that can be drunk young but also kept for a decade, he added.
Chedozeau was born in Tours, in the Loire region, and is a oenologist by training who has worked in the Languedoc, at Chablis and Saint-Emilion.
Loire valley wines are often light and fruity such as the Saint-Nicolas de Bourgeuil reds while Muscadet is known for its nutty and musky taste and smoky scent that marries well with seafood such as mussels. Chinon reds can be spicy.
Often in Parisian brasseries, people cannot fully appreciate the taste of the wines as they tend to be served chilled because they are young. But you can always send for another.
Reporting by Marcel Michelson, editing by Paul Casciato