Stretching from the centre of France all the way out to the
Atlantic Coast in the west, the Loire Valley is one of the largest wine regions
in France, located along the Loire River. As the area measures more than 600
miles long, it has allowed for a diversity of wines to develop from many grape
varieties grown there. When staying at our luxury villas in France, be sure to
sample the local varieties available – it will be unlike anything you’ll find
in the supermarket at home.
Soil and climate
Such a vast variety of grapes can be grown here due to the
different types of soil found along the valley, which include clay, gravel,
granite rock and Tuffeau limestone, which was used to build the many lavish
chateaux the region is also famous for. The area also varies in climate which
also aids the diversity of the wines; while the climate is oceanic by the
coast, further inland the climate becomes more continental.
As the area of the Loire Valley is so large, the Loire
Valley is also generally divided up into four sub-regions. From west to east,
the first region is the Pays Nantais, which surrounds the coastal city of
Nantes. Moving further up the river, next is Anjou, the area surrounding the
city of Angers, followed by Touraine, which surrounds Tours. Finally, there is
the Upper Loire, a hilly region where the river approaches its source.
With a varied climate and range of soils, a number of
different grape varieties, both red and white, are grown in the Loire Valley.
Chenin Blanc is perhaps one of the best known, and is used to create sparkling,
dry white and sweet Botryrtis wines. It is grown hardly anywhere else in the
world apart from South Africa. Though it originated from the Bordeaux region,
Cabernet Franc is also made in the Loire Valley, where it is made into a single
varietal wine rather than the blended kind which is the standard in Bordeaux.
It is used to produce a number of reds such as Chinon and Bourgueil, rose such
as Cabernet d’Anjou and sparkling rose such as Saumur. The Melon de Bourgogne
grape is also used to create the crisp white wine of Muscadet, while the
Grolleau grape is an often forgotten variety used as a base for many simple
local rose wines.
Few other wine regions in Europe can lay claim to producing
such a variety of wine styles, which range from the dry whites of Muscadet,
Saumur, Vouvray and Sancerre to the sweet Botrytis wines of the Montlouis,
Coteaux du Layon and Savennieres appellations. Rose wines such as the Rose de
Loire and Rose d’Anjou are also produced in large volumes, as are sparkling
wines from areas such as Vouvray, Saumur and Cremant de Loire. The Loire Valley
is also home to a number of interesting reds such as the Pinot Noir from
Sancerre and the Cabernet Francs from Chinon, Bourgeuil and Saumur-Champigny.
Image: La Chiquita, Dominic Lockyer, available under