Wine styles in Loire Valley: the French vineyard which presents the greatest diversity of wines to taste

The Loire Valley is today perhaps the best wine region in France for its wide variety of grape varieties and wine styles, its unique Atlantic and riverine climate, and its wide range of white, rosé, sparkling and red wines that satisfy a enormous variety of tastes. The region is positioning itself towards high quality, making it an essential destination for wine lovers.

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) pink and sparkling wine.

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'.

Blue - Pays NantaisRed Anjou / SaumurOrange - Touraine, Green Centre 


Eclipseed by the Beaujolais and the northern Rhônewine region there is << Center >> sub-region . This vineyard has four very young denominations (the majority created after 1994). On the banks of the Loire river, on its upper course and on the banks of the Allier are produced red, white and rosé wines (these last two much less ). As a curiosity Côtes d'Auverge denomination have5 sub-denominations and the white variety 'Tressalier' own of the Saint-Pourçain denomination.

We follow the Loire river where with more hectares are the denominations Sancerre (3000) or Pouilly-Fumé (1350) both with the Sauvignon Blanc (like AOP Quincy) Another essentially white vineyard is Pouilly-sur-Loire (with the Chasselas as the main grape variety). To find a denomination that only makes red wine, you have to order Orléans-Clery wines based Cabernet Franc. The rest of denominations are balanced in terms of wine color, based on Chardonnay, Chenin, Sauvignon (gray and white) or Pinot Noir and Gamay in red.


We arrived at the central course of Loire river with a prestigious sub-region such as << Touraine >>, with its most popular wines from the provinces of Loir-et-Cher and Indre-et-Loire. It distinguishes Touraine denomination (4000 Ha and 6 sub-denominations). This AOC Touraine, born in 1939, can produce white (mostly), rose, red, red 'primeur' and sparkling wine.

The other heavyweights of the Touraine vineyard are Vouvray (2200 Ha with the Chenin as king producing dry, semi-dry and sparkling wines), Chinon (2400 Ha devoted mostly to red wine) and between 1000-1500 hectares other two areas devoted to reds Cabernet Franc based on: Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Bourgueil (pronounced / bug-goi /).

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 (Loire affluent). On the left bank we start with the denominations Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny which produces only whites and only based on the Romorantin grape variety.

Chenonceau's Château

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

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 50 and 80 Ha, where white wine predominates. From east to west they are: Coteaux-du-Vendômois, Jasnières (100% white based on Chenin) and Coteaux du Loir.


<< 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 pink) and still whites wines.

The viticultural titan is the AOC Cabernet d'Anjou, with 5300 Ha for the semi-dry rosé based on the two Cabernets. Do not confuse with Rosé d'Anjou denomination , which the half of hectares, more red varieties available and bases 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 1100 Ha dedicated to the dry rosé).

It shares the same production area but with less hectares 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 (the 2 Cabernets). The other denominations that only produce red are Saumur-Champigny and Saumur Puy-Notre-Damme (each one with 1500 Ha with the Cabernet Franc as king).

Anjou city's château

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 (200 Ha), Savennières (130 Ha on the right bank) with its neighbors Coulée de Serrant (AOC in 2015) and Savannières Roche aux Moines (7 and 30 Ha 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 100 Ha each).

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: 1,500 hectares 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 (2000 Ha) and by versatility (whites, reds, 'primeur' reds and sparkling wines whose production is small).

Saumur Mousseux: 1500 Ha 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 460 Ha dispersed in the Vendée province). Another "remote" AOC from the Loire river is AOC Haut-Poitou (with 700 Has where there are Sauvigon blanc and gray, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Merlot and much Cabernet Franc), in the Vienne province.

The denomination's aggregate that produce white wine almost surrounds Nantes city. Stand out by size the 6000 hectares 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 / ha without the mention and maximum 45 hl / ha when MSM is followed by a communal mention).

Clisson's château

With about 3000 Ha 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 700 Ha 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 300 Has denominations each and they are: Muscadet Coteaux de Grandlieu (around the lake of Grandlieu) and Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire (between Nantes and Anjou-Saumur subzone).

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 1 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).


1 comentario: