A guide to the great wines of the Loire Valley

23rd November, 2015
The Loire region has to be one of the most prominent wine regions in France, producing an enormous amount of wine, mostly white, every year.

As you follow the course of the river, wines can be found in different varieties, though one thing they all have in common is their crisp freshness and relatively high acidity. A number of different grape and wine varieties are produced in the Loire region, with some of them dominating different parts of the valley. Below is a brief guide to some of the great wines you?ll discover in the Loire ? perfect for complementing a laid-back holiday in one of our French villas.

The western Loire

Known as the Pays de Nantes, this coastal area of the Loire region, is the home of two notable wines, Muscadet and Melon de Bourgogne, a grape which makes a neutral wine, which tends to be more tart in cooler years. When choosing a Muscadet wine, look out for the term ?Sur Lie? on its label, meaning that it has been ages less on its lees, a mix of yeast and grape fragments which remain after fermentation. They are bottled directly from the lees, without filtrations, bringing extra fruitiness, nuttiness and sparkle to the end result.

The middle Loire

Home to several well-known wine regions including Vouvray, Chinon and Tourraine, several wines, incorporating red, white and rose, are made here, though the jewel in the area?s crown is probably the Chenin Blanc. Available in both dry and sweet varieties, dry Chenin Blanc is perhaps the best choice, with a distinctive sharp taste which develops a more honeyed element as it ages. The middle Loire region reds, though lesser known, deserve more recognition, especially their Cabernet Francs, which exhibit rich earthy qualities. Many districts also produce fine sparkling wines, often signified with the term Mousseux on the bottle, mainly made by the Champagne method.

The upper Loire

Though sometimes referred to confusingly as the ?central vineyards?, the northeastern limits of the Loire Valley produce some truly world famous sauvignon blanc whites and pinot noir reds and roses. Sancerre is perhaps the best region for sauvignon blanc, with its wines being, at their best, a combination of acidity, vividness and grassy gooseberry aromas. AC Menetou-Salon is also an interesting region ? lying west of Sancerre, this area produces some lovely wines using both red and white grapes.

Image: chrisada, available under Creative Commons