The Val de Loire wine area is not only home to majestic châteaux, but also to some of the world's best Sauvignon blancs. Rather than dazzling us with heavy fruitiness, they seduce us with character, freshness and minerality.
The Romans grew wine in the Loire Valley, and in the Middle Ages vines continued to be cultivated by monks. There is a historical link between Burgundy and the Loire Valley: the great local Chenin blanc grape is called Pineau de la Loire.
This wine region begins about 100 kilometres west of Burgundy and north of Nevers (upper Loire), extending to the delta of the Loire in the west and the area around Nantes on the Atlantic coast. The soils are very diverse: limestone and siliceous soils predominate in the upper Loire, while large areas in Touraine, Anjou and the Pays Nantais consist of gravel and sandy soils. Loire wines grown on former river soils and near water are less concentrated.
The climate on the banks of the river is usually mild with adequate cooling, which gives the wines a certain freshness.
Widespread in the upper Loire is the Sauvignon blanc grape, from which fresh, light and yet aromatic white wines are pressed. A small proportion of the rosé and red wines from Sancerre and Menetou-Salon are produced from the Pinot noir grape. The Touraine area around the city of Tours also mainly produces white wines, from Chenin blanc grapes. The grapes used for red wines are Cabernet Franc and Gamay. The Vouvray area is known for sparkling wines with a certain sweetness. The sparkling wine known by that name, produced by the méthode champenoise, is called crémant in the Loire Valley. The Anjou area around the city of Angers mainly produces dry white and red wines, and also sweet wines for laying down. The quality of the wines can vary greatly: the consumer should choose with care. In the far west of Anjou, finally, dry white Muscadet is produced.
Well-known white wines from the Loire include Sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc, Muscadet, Romorantin, Gros Plant, Pinot blanc and Chardonnay. The red wines it produces include Pinot noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and many more
Vineyard area and production volume
70,000 hectares, some 3 million hectolitres per year.