Wine styles in Loire Valley

Loire Valley vineyard is located in N-W France, from the Atlantic coasts to the Lyon city's gates. We are talking about 160618 acres of vineyard (almost like in spanish Rioja) dedicated in its half to white wine (there it is included dry, on lees, semi-dry and liqueur). A quarter of this vineyard will produce red and in smaller quantity (but not less important) rosés and sparkling wines.


Climatically, if we have to label this area, we would use the adjective 'temperate', why? Because the Loire River and its affluents create a special micro-climate that led to settle there first monks, then royal dynasties and finally the bourgeoisie. Naturally each sub-zone has its own character, from more continental to more oceanic as we approach the Atlantic.

As to grape varieties are concerned, we are going to find a great spectrum including native cépages. In white the kings is the 'Chenin' or 'Pineau de la Loire', of great versatility. In the most oceanic area we have the 'Melon de Bourgogne' and the 'Folle Blanche'. Best known are the 'Sauvignon' and the 'Chardonnay' (there called 'Auvernat'). The 'Romorantin' (in Cour-Cheverny), the 'Tressalier' (in Saint-Pourçain), 'Chasselas', 'Sauvignon Gris', 'Malvoisie', 'Aligoté' or the 'Pinot Gris' are worked in smaller quantities.

With the red varieties can be elaborated rosé wines, young red wines, 'primeur' wines and aged wines. 'Cabernet Franc' is very present not only in the Loire but in all the French west contributing with red fruit, pepper and piracines hints to the wine. With the 'Gamay' and the Grolleau, young light red and rosé wines are produced. The 'Pinot d'Aunis' (or Chenin Noir) is seen in the central course of the Loire being a native variety with the 'Grolleau' (or Groslot). There are also Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec (Côt) or S-W France varieties like 'Négrette'.


Eclipseed by the Beaujolais and northern Rhône wine region there is << Center >> sub-region . This vineyard has four very young denominations (the majority created after 1994). On the Loire river banks, on its upper course and on the Allier river banks are produced red, white and rosé wines (these last two much less ). As a curiosity Côtes d'Auverge denomination have 5 sub-denominations and the white variety 'Tressalier' own of Saint-Pourçain denomination.

We follow the Loire river where with more acres are the denominations Sancerre (7413) or Pouilly-Fumé (3335) both with the Sauvignon Blanc (like AOP Quincy) Another essentially white vineyard is Pouilly-sur-Loire (with the Chasselas as main grape variety). To find a 1oo% red wine denomination, you have to order Orléans-Clery wines based in Cabernet Franc. The rest of denominations are balanced in wine color terms, based on Chardonnay, Chenin, Sauvignon (gray and white) or Pinot Noir and Gamay in red.

Montée de Bouffant 2016 (AOC Sancerre)


We arrived at the central course of Loire river with a prestigious sub-region such as << Touraine >>, with its most popular wines from  Loir-et-Cher and Indre-et-Loire provinces. It distinguishes Touraine denomination (9884 acres and 6 sub-denominations). This AOC Touraine, born in 1939, can produce white (mostly), rosé, red, 'primeur' red and sparkling wine.

The other heavyweights of the Touraine vineyard are Vouvray (5436 ac with the Chenin as king producing dry, semi-dry and sparkling wines), Chinon (5930 ac devoted mostly to red wine) and between 2471-3700 acres other two areas devoted to reds Cabernet Franc based on: Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Bourgueil (pronounced / bug-goi /).

Bernard Fouquet Fines Bulles (AOC Vouvray)

But to avoid a mess we are going to divide the Touraine vineyard into 3 zones from south to north: the left bank of the Loire, the right bank and the vineyard of the Loir river (a Loire affluent). On the left bank we start with Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny denominations producing whites Romorantin grape variety based wines.

At the Tours (Towers) city gates we continue with the AOC Valençai and with almost half of AOC Touraine sub-denominations, the AOC Chinon and the AOC Montlouis (of great interest because, dedicated to Chenin blanc, it produces wines of great quality).

Domaine de la Taille aux Loups cuvée Remus 2015 (AOC Montlouis)

The right bank rivals, in some cases, with the other side of the river areas, such as Montlouis (left margin) against Vouvray (right margin). Vast vineyards are located on this side of the Loire (Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil) and, to slipstream, the sub-denominations Touraine-Mesland and Touraine-Amboise.

More to the north ( Sarthe and Loir-et-Cher provinces) there are 3 small denominations of between 123 and 197 ac, where white wine predominates. From east to west they are: Coteaux-du-Vendômois, Jasnières (100% Chenin blanc based) and Coteaux du Loir.

 La Grange Tiphaine cuvée Bel Air 2016 (AOC Touraine Amboise)


<< Anjou >> or << Anjou-Saumur >> sub-region is the other prestige great area of the Loire valley. Here we will find great rosé wines, great liquor wines, reds full of vivacity, effervescent (white and rosé) and still whites wines.

The viticultural titan is the AOC Cabernet d'Anjou, with 13096 acres for the semi-dry rosé based on the two Cabernets. Do not confuse with Rosé d'Anjou denomination , which half of acres, more red varieties available and basing its difference on the amount of minimum legal residual sugars. The 'primeur rosé' is another specialty worthy of mention. The third rose wine monster is the Rosé de Loire denomination (covers 5 provinces with its 2718 acres dedicated to the dry rosé).

Domaine des Charmes 2017 (AOC Cabernet d'Anjou)
It shares the same production area but with less acres of vines the AOC Anjou, which extends 90% on the left bank of the Loire river. This left bank also has the vineyard of Anjou Villages and Anjou Villages Brissac both two 100% red (2 Cabernets). The other denominations that only produce red are Saumur-Champigny and Saumur Puy-Notre-Damme (each one with 3706 acres with the Cabernet Franc as king).

Vineyard rich in liqueur and semi-dry wines: we have the Coteaux du Layon appellation since 1950, which can be completed with 7 sub-denominations since 2011 (all 7 producing liqueur wine based on Chenin). Other similar denominations without leaving Maine-et-Loire department are Coteaux de l'Aubance (494 ac), Savennières (321 ac on the right bank) with its neighbors Coulée de Serrant (AOC in 2015) and Savannières Roche aux Moines (17 and 74 ac respectively). The liqueur and semi-dry wine weight based on Chenin Blanc is guaranteed with more names such as Coteaux de Saumur, Anjou-Coteaux de la Loire, Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru (all of them with less than 247 acres each).

Domaine des Baumard cuvée Carte d'Or 2015 (AOC Coteaux du Layon)

There are 3 denominations susceptible to produce effervescent wine in Anjou-Saumur region and are: 'Crémant de Loire', 'Anjou' and 'Saumur Mousseux' (these last two are AOC since 1957)

Crémant de Loire: 3700 acres covering a wide variety of soils. It can produce sparkling white (based on Chenin white and Chardonnay) or rosé (with the two Cabernets and the red Chenin also known as Pinot d'Aunis).

Anjou: great denomination by size (4942 acres) and by versatility (whites, reds, 'primeur' reds and sparkling wines whose production is small).

Saumur Mousseux: 3700 acres planted south of Saumur city and on the Thouet river banks. Great soil varieties with limeston (tuffeau) predominance.


The final stretch of Loire river with axis in Nantes city is the environment of a vineyard mostly white but also with reds and rosés wines. The left bank concentrates the bulk of the vineyard and mix almost a dozen denominations. One of its particularities is the white variety 'Melon de Bourgogne'.

We find the three colors in the Coteaux d'Ancenis (which accepts the mention 'Malvoisie' when the Pinot Gris variety is 100%) and Fiefs Vendéens denominations (further away from the Loire river and with 1136 ac dispersed in the Vendée province). Another "remote" AOC from the Loire river is Haut-Poitou (with 1729 ac where there are Sauvigon blanc and gray, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Merlot and much Cabernet Franc), in the Vienne province.

Landron Chartier cuvée Les Clefs 2015 (AOC Coteaux d'Ancenis)

The denomination's aggregate that produce white wine almost surrounds Nantes city. Stand out by size the 14826 acres in Muscadet Sevre et Maine (whose queen variety is not the Muscat but the Melon de Bourgogne). This AOC can be completed by 3 village mentions that indicate not only the specificity of the terroir but a lower yield per hectare (maximum 55 hl / acre without the mention and maximum 45 hl / acre when MSM is followed by a communal mention).

With about 7413 ac of variety Melon vineyard is the AOC Muscadet, which can benefit of 'primeur' or 'nouveau' nmention if it goes on sale from the third november Thursday following the harvest. With 1729 ac and vineyards overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the AOC Gros Plant du Pays Nantais produces only wines with the Folle Blanche grape variety (as in Cognac wine region). We return to the Melon vines with two 741 ac denominations each and they are: Muscadet Coteaux de Grandlieu (around the Grandlieu lake) and Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire (between Nantes and Anjou-Saumur subzone).

Landron Chartier 2016 (AOC Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire)
Last 5 denominations explained (from MSM to MCL) can benefit from the mention on lees (sur lie) ... What does this mean? 

That after the alcoholic fermentation of the Melon or Folle Blanche must the wine rests in contact on its fine lees X time, normally in steel tanks. This time will count from the end of the fermentation until (minimum) March 1st of the year following the harvest "or" (maximum) until November 30 of the year following the harvest. The richness of this wine will depend of the stay on lees period. That white wine will be special because:

  • It will have a slight effervescence because of the CO2 that lees naturally retain.
  • Lower SO2 dose necessary because the lees are natural protectors for the wine
  • Greater volume, roundness and softness feeling in the mouth.
  • Higher storage potential once in bottle (without previous filtering).

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