The best wines from Loire

Vineyards and winemaking are deeply ingrained in the culture and legacy in third largest wine area, the so called Loire Valley, which is situatued in central France towards the mouth of the Loire river in the Atlantic Ocean. It contains a succession of wine regions: Pouilly sur Loire, Sancerre, Touraine, Vouvray, Anjou and Saumur. 

Since the areas are a bit further apart, the soil composition and the climate are different. The wines therefore also have their own character per region.

Key grapes like Melon de Bourgogne, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc stand out. The Loire also has many other grape varieties: Auvernat Blanc (Chardonnay), Auvernat Noir (Pinot Noir), Breton (Cabernet Franc), Chasselas, Malbec, Gamay, Malvoisie, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Some of the best known and best Loire wines come from producers such as Dagueneau, Clos Rougeard and Baron de Ladoucette.

All wines in Loire

The history of wines in Loire

The Loire, France's longest river, has been an essential element in the viticulture of this region for centuries. Since ancient Roman times, winemaking in the Loire Valley has prospered, leveraging the river's logistical advantages to its advantage. Monks nurtured vineyards, making sought-after wines for France and England.

Grand chateaux in the 15th-17th centuries elevated its status, but railways and competition with southern and Bordeaux wines posed challenges. The phylloxera outbreak further delayed the region's recovery, making it one of France's slowest to bounce back.

The grapes in Loire

The wines of the Loire Valley are unique as they often highlight single grape varieties. The Loire Valley's red wines shine in Bourgueil, Chinon, St. Nicolas de Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny. Touraine-Chenonceaux offers captivating blends of Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Heading towards Burgundy, Pinot Noir takes centre stage, notably in Sancerre, producing refined oak-aged wines of exceptional finesse. In terms of white wines, Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre are renowned for their exquisite Sauvignon Blancs.

Chenin blanc
Like the riesling, the chenin blanc is also a versatile grape that can produce dry to very sweet wines. The grape variety is rapidly gaining popularity and is also often used in blends with other grape varieties.

When the grape is grown in cool climates, the chenin blanc wines taste fresh. They have a high acidity. The flavour elements that dominate are citrus fruit and fl oral (flowers). The chenin blanc grape is also made from sweet wine with aromas of peach, honey and toasted bread.

In South Africa this grape is very much grown; there he is called 'stone'. The value for money of chenin blanc wines is good. There are very good wines to obtain at very acceptable prices.

The gamay grape stands for the Beaujolais. From simple beaujolais first wines to beautiful cru wines. The best beaujolais cru wines can ripen for a long time. In addition to the Loire, the gamay grape is not cultivated in the rest of the world.

In gamay wines, red fruit (strawberry, raspberry) with some fl oral tones emerges and by special fermentation methods often also banana. Especially the freshness and fruitiness is characteristic of gamay wines.

The more simple gamay wines are often drunk lightly chilled (14 to 16 degrees Celsius).

The classifications of wines in Loire

Loire can be divided into five wine growing areas: the Auvergne region, the Orléanais region (Centre-Loire), the Touraine region, the Anjou-Saumur region, the region of Pays Nantais, and the Vendée Fiefs. In the Loire Valley, there are over 50 protected designations known as Appellations d’Origine Protégées (AOPs) and several Geographical Protected Indications (IGPs). The name 'IGP Val de Loire' replaced Vins de Pays in 2009, and classifies the wine production. Having an IGP denomination does not instantly imply a lower level of quality than other areas without an Appellations d’Origine Controlee. It could suggest a wine prodicers decision to deviate from appellation restrictions, such as using more Cabernet Sauvignon than is permitted in Chinon.

Some significant AOCs in the Loire Valley are:

  • Sancerre is renowned for Sauvignon Blanc whites, delivering crisp, aromatic expressions, alongside red and rosé Pinot Noir wines.
  • Pouilly-Fumé is esteemed for its smoky Sauvignon Blancs, influenced by limestone and flint soils, offering unique mineral qualities.
  • Vouvray is celebrated for Chenin Blanc wines, spanning dry to sweet styles, showcasing diverse flavors from crisp acidity to honeyed richness.
  • Chinon is famed for Cabernet Franc reds, from herbaceous to structured styles with fruity nuances. Muscadet is known for its zesty, dry Melon de Bourgogne whites, perfect for seafood pairings with their lively acidity.

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