A guide to the wines of the Loire Valley

28th September, 2016
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.

Sub-regions

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.

Grape varieties

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. Wine styles 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 Creative Commons