Within the Loire Valley, France's third largest
wine producer, vineyards and wine making are rooted in the very heart of its
culture and heritage. Its official wine route which is marketed under the
umbrella of 'La route des
vignobles' stretches a total of 800km from Nantes in the west to Sancerre in the
The subtle yet
very demanding culture that surrounds the art of
wine production here, is grounded in a landscape
that offers very little in the way of favours to
Yet their success
can be measured in the number of fine wines they
produce, wines from Bourgueil, Chinon,
Montlouis-sur-Loire, Saumur, Touraine & Vouvray
to name but a few. There are a number of grape
varieties used throughout the region which give
rise to this vibrant diversity of wines.
Loire Valley grapes
This is the long established signature
grape for the red wines of Saumur and Touraine in the
Loire Valley.The wines it produces, Chinon, Bourgueil,
St.-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Saumur-Champigny are lighter
than that of Bordeaux (where the grape probably originated)
wines. This is due in part to the Loire Valley's cooler
climate. These wines have gained a reputation for
refreshing, youthful wines that should be drunk early.
grape is the mainstay of rosé wines of the Loire Valley
produced in Anjou and Saumur. It is also used sometimes in
the blending of red wines of those areas. There are some
wines in the region made entirely from this grape such as
Although a popular
choice throughout the world of vintners this grape variety
is not widely used in the Loire Valley. It is added to a
number of reds to give them some 'body', plus it is used to
produce some rosés.
This grape which gives us the
popular reds of Burgandy also does well here in the Loire
Valley in the light reds of Sancerre and Cheverny.
Wines with this grape are
probably the most synonymous with the Loire Valley. Its
versatile properties mean that it is found in anything from
the very dry to the sweetest of wines plus it is great for
making sparkling wines.
Appellations where this
can be found include Vouvray, Anjou, Chinon,
Montlouis-sur-Loire, Saumur and Savennieres.
These grapes are
for the popular and world famous Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume
classified as “Vins du Centre”
This grape is grown
around the extreme western part of the Loire Valley, around
Nantes, as it proved to be the best variety to cope with
winter frosts the area is susceptible to. The wines from
these grapes are marketed under the same name,
In the Loire Valley
Chardonnay grapes are used mainly as a blending grape adding
richness to sparkling wines and they are sometimes used in
Saumur and Anjou whites but only as a small percentage of
the finished blend.
The area is also second only to Champagne in the
production of sparkling wines in France but available at a fraction of the
Wine production here helps perpetuate a lifestyle that the region is happy to
share with its tourists as well as trying to encourage a more global 'brand'.
A free map and guide are available from 'InterLoire'
(the official wine body for the region) to the vineyards of the
Loire Valley - available to download in English here:
This doesn't include some famous appellations which are very close
to the river Loire such as Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Quincy – these
are all classified as “Vins du Centre” but it does cover the Loire
Valley from the Atlantic to Orleans. Included are 69 separate
appellations with the AOC* stamp of approval with more than 7,000
*AOC - 'appellation d'origine controlee' which
roughly translates as ‘areas of controlled origin’