Knowing your French Wines: The Loire Valley

(Château de Montsoreau, near Saumur)

 

2018 was a rare and historic millésime (vintage) for Loire wines. So any wine lover should know about the outstanding vignobles (vineyards) of this most charming part of France.

I grew up in Angers (Anjou region), in the Loire Valley, in French called La Vallée de la Loire. It’s mostly famous for its châteaux – you’ve probably heard of Chambord or Chenonceau. But the region is known by wine connoisseurs for its other delights as well.

The unique and exceptional wine terroirs are spread out along the western part of the Loire River, the longest in France. This wine region specifically called Le Val de Loire extends from the town of Sancerre to the city of Nantes, near the river’s mouth.

There are 4 distinct vineyard zones, from West to East: Le Nantais, Anjou-Saumur, La Tourraine, Le Centre-Loire. These vineyards produce mostly des vins blancs (white wines), but also rouges (reds), rosés, and pétillants (sparkling) or the more delicate term fines bulles (sparkling, lit. fine bubbles.)

What makes these wines special is that most are made with one varietal: melon de bourgogne in Nantes; Chenin, Cabernet, Gamay in Anjou-Saumur; Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Gamay in Touraine and Centre-Loire. But there are many more varietals used, which makes for an extraordinary diversity of expressions.

Some of the most well-known Loire wines include: Muscadet, Vouvray, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Coteaux-du-layon, Quarts-de-chaume, Savennières (whites); Anjou, Chinon and Saumur (reds);  Anjou and Saumur (rosés); and Crémants de Loire (sparkling).

Find more on the official website of the vins de val de Loire here.

(photographs by Sev)

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