Viticulture in the Loire Valley started around the 5th century when the monks began to develop vines from Vendée to Auvergne. During the Middle Ages, the first wines of Anjou entered the Court of England under Henry II, and the French Court as well. The French Revolution then destroyed most of these vineyards, and the wines from Loire Valley did not regain recognition before the 20th century, highlighted by the first Appellation in 1936. The vineyards of Loire cover 800km from the Atlantic Ocean (Nantes) to the middle of France. It has a large mosaic of climates and soils, which provide a great variety of wines, often made from a single grape variety.
With 86 appellations, the Loire Valley is the 3rd wine region in France and the leading producer of white wines. The region is divided into 4 distinct wine areas:
Centre Loire: the Eastern part of the valley, close to Burgundy, is small in production but includes the most famous Loire wines: Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, known for their great white wines made of Sauvignon Blanc.
Touraine: West of the Central Vineyards, Vouvray produces refreshing still and sparkling white wines from Chenin Blanc, whereas Chinon and Bourgueil both produce light to medium-bodied red wines from Cabernet Franc.
Anjou-Saumur: this is the heart of the Loire Valley, with both white and red wines like Saumur-Champigny. It is also the region of some great sweet white wines such as Coteaux du Layon, which are rare and especially popular.
Pays Nantais: known for its easy drinking white wines, mainly Muscadet.
Cheverny, Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy, Reuilly, Sancerre, etc...
Bourgueil, Chinon, Montlouis-Sur-Loire, St Nicolas de Bourgueil, Touraine, Vouvray, etc...
Anjou Villages, Coteaux du Layon, Jasnières, Quarts de Chaume, Rosé d’Anjou, Saumur Blanc, Saumur-Champigny, Savennières, etc...
Coteaux d’Ancenis, Fiefs Vendéens, Gros Plant du Pays Nantais, Muscadet, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, etc...
It is the main red grape in the Loire Valley and is also used to produce rosé. It gives juicy red wines with light tannins, often served lightly chilled, although some may be more robust.
Mostly in Centre Loire, to produces red and rosé in Sancerre and Menetou Salon.
This grape, mainly used in Anjou, gives semi-dry rosé wines easy to drink and fruity.
Other red grapes
Gamay, Malbec (or Cot), Pineau d’Aunis.
It is responsible for the great white wines in the centre of the Loire Valley. Depending of the ripeness of the grapes at the time of picking, it is able to give a large variety of styles: light white, sparkling, medium sweet and natural sweet wines.
Widely used in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé vineyards, this grape produces great mineral white wines with lemony aromas.
Melon de Bourgogne
This grape is used to produce the Muscadet, on the West side of the Loire Valley, giving apple flavours to these simple white wines.
Other white grapes
Chardonnay, Pinot Gris.
Surface: 52,000 ha
Production: 230m bottles