Loire Valley Wine Region
Close to Nantes in Western France is the Loire Valley wine region, which is one of the most picturesque
winemaking regions in Europe. The narrow, but wide region follows the Loire River, as it meanders from Auvergne and
the Massif Central mountains to the Atlantic coast. Vines producing wine grapes existed here as far back as the
Roman invasion into the Loire Valley. Historians affirm that as long ago as 380 AD reds were made in the adjacent
hills and whites were fermented on the riverbanks.
The climate varies significantly over this wide region, with mild Atlantic winter and summer weather in the
west, and cold winters and warm summers in the interior area.
In contrast to Bordeaux where 75% of the production is red, in the Loire three quarters goes to the creation of
whites, with the main grapes being Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon. Most of the remaining quarter of red is produced
from Cabernet Franc, with some Gamay and Pinot Noir.
Total production reaches 400 million bottles, the product of grapes grown in clay-limestone, siliceous and
chalky soils. Types range from dry whites to sweet, and rosé to fruity reds.
In the eastern part of the Loire valley wine region, around Pouilly and Sancerre, most of the grapes used for
winemaking are Sauvignon Blanc. These go into making the delicious dry, white Pouilly-Fumé. The other bank around
Sancerre produces the robust, dry eponymous white.
Further west in the province of Touraine, one finds predominantly Chenin Blanc, which forms the starting point
of the fruity Montlouis. Also made here are the glorious red Loire wines, Bourgueil and Chinon, mostly from
And on the right bank of the Loire river, close to Tours do not miss out on a lovely dry Vouvray. The product of
Chenin Blanc grown in clay infested limestone and chalk, 13 million bottles are produced in the area on almost
Touraine's neighbor to the west, Anjou-Saumur, also produces a delectable white from Chenin Blanc, famed for its
smooth quality. Winemakers cluster around Angers as they have since the 6th century. Famous for the Rosé d'Anjou,
it is reported to have been enjoyed by King Henry II of England. However, the commoner can also enjoy the oak aged
whites. With fifty-five million bottles produced from land covering 22,000 acres, there is no fear of running
Coteaux du Layon is the widest wine area of the Anjou region lying along the Layon river where the vines are
protected by the hills. Best known for a sweet wine purported to be from a recipe 15 centuries old. The harvest
here is late, where the growers leave the grapes on the vines until they begin to over-ripen. Nearly 7 million
bottles are produced from 4,450 acres.
Last, but certainly far from least, we finish our tour with the well-known Muscadet, which sits at the far west
of the Loire Valley. Here is produced a pale white, lovely in its dry, astringent taste. It is best drunk when
fresh and young, by connoisseurs of any age. From its 31,000 acres of granite, soil rises vines which produce
grapes that fill nearly 100 million bottles, so take your time.