Loire wines: diversity along the river
The largest vineyard in the country is located on either side of the longest river in France. Over a thousand kilometres, the 70,000 hectares or so of vineyards in the Loire Valley flourish along the banks of the Loire and its tributaries. The Loire Valley and its great diversity of terroirs offer wines in all three colours, starting with the white. Red wines, rosé wines and sparkling wines are also part of the range and present the same diversity that characterises this great wine region.
The Loire Valley vineyards follow the river and its tributaries from its source in the Massif Central to its mouth towards the ocean in the Loire-Atlantique. It thus covers several wine-producing regions: the Pays nantais and the Fiefs vendéens, Anjou-Saumur, Touraine, Orléanais and Centre and finally, Auvergne. Each of these regions has its own particularities.
The extensive geography of the vineyards contributes to a great diversity of wines: dry, semi-dry, sweet and syrupy white wines to start with. They are mainly made from the following grape varieties: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon, Melon de Bourgogne and Chardonnay. The white wines of the Loire are distinguished by their freshness and fruity notes.
As for the reds and rosés, Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, Gamay, Pineau d'Aunis, Pinot Noir and Côt are the dominant grape varieties.
This diversity of products corresponds to a wide range of prices. From châteaux to estates, from cooperatives to wine houses, there is no shortage of references. All the more so as, for some years now, many young winegrowers have been inviting themselves into this vast landscape and making the vineyards more dynamic.
The Loire Valley has two regional appellations:
- Crémant de Loire, produced in the Anjou, Saumur and Touraine areas
- Rosé de Loire, produced in Anjou and Touraine
Many AOCs then punctuate the Loire landscape. Muscadet, Chinon, Saumur, Sancerre, Quincy, Reuilly... are some of the most renowned appellations of the Loire.
With its 70,000 hectares of vines, the Loire Valley vineyards cover a vast production area, which extends over 4 main regions
- The Nantes region
- The Centre
Vineyards of the Nantes region
This region extends mainly in Loire-Atlantique, south and east of Nantes. It also extends into the Vendée and Maine-et-Loire. Mainly dry white wines are produced, of which the Muscadet (melon) and Gros Plant (folle blanche) appellations are the best known. Gamay reigns over the Coteaux d'Ancenis alongside Cabernet, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Gris. In the Fiefs Vendéens (Mareuil, Brem, Pissotte and Vix), blended or single-varietal wines are produced in red, rosé and white
Vineyards of Anjou-Saumur
In the extension of the Nantes region, this vineyard extends mainly in Maine-et-Loire, with small incursions into Deux-Sèvres and Vienne. All types of wine are produced around the towns of Angers and Saumur: reds, dry and sweet whites, rosés and sparkling wines.
As for the red wines, light and tasty, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes dominate. The AOC Anjou, Anjou Villages, Saumur-Champigny and Chinon are the main representatives.
The whites come in dry, sweet, mellow and sweet wines, which are mainly made from Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Bonnezeaux, Coteaux de l'Aubance, Savennières, Coteaux de Saumur and Saumur are among the most famous AOCs.
There are also supple and aromatic rosé wines, many of which are made from Grolleau, Cabernet and Gamay grapes. The main appellations are Rosé d'Anjou, Cabernet d'Anjou and Cabernet de Saumur.
Finally, the vineyard produces sparkling wines, including Crémant de la Loire, Anjou fines bulles and Saumur brut.
Vineyards of Touraine
In the heart of the famous Loire castles, this vineyard extends around the city of Tours, between Saumur and Blois. All types of wine are produced in this area, from a single grape variety or from blends.
For reds, Cabernet Franc dominates, along with Gamay, Pinot Noir, Pineau d'Aunis, Côt and Grolleau. Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Cheverny... are worthy representatives.
The white wines are made from chenin blanc, sauvignon and chardonnay grapes. Let us quote Vouvray, Cour-Cheverny, Montlouis...
Vineyards of the Centre
This region is at the heart of the Loire vineyards. It is very fragmented and extends around Orléans, Bourges and south of Châteauroux. This vineyard is generally divided into three distinct areas:
- The Centre Loire, the land of choice for Sauvignon, a grape variety that produces exceptional dry white wines: Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy, Reuilly... Gamay, pinot noir, cabernet-sauvignon... also produce famous red wines: Châteaumeillant, Menetou-Salon, Reuilly...
- The Orléanais, where there are 3 AOCs in the 3 colours: Orléans, Orléans Cléry and coteaux du Giennois
- The Massif Central, where Gamay and Pinot Noir are grown for the reds and Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Aligoté for the whites. Côte roannaise, Côtes d'Auvergne, Côtes du Forez and Saint-Pourçain offer red, white and rosé wines.