Loire Valley Wines: A Guide to the Unassuming Wine Region

Loire Valley Wines: A Guide to the Unassuming Wine Region

** It may not be a great time to travel, but it is certainly a good time to dream. Stay safe everyone.

The wines of the Loire Valley may not be as famous as its châteaux, but that is not to say there is not some great wine in the region. And really, who doesn’t want to sip wine while dreaming of royalty!?

Located in the center of France, the Loire wine region consists of the area along the Loire River from the city of Nantes on the Atlantic coast to Amboise, Tours, and Orléans in the middle of the country.

Wine-making in the Loire dates back to the 1st century. At one time, Loire valley wines were considered the best in the world, coveted by aristocrats all over Europe in the middle ages. The château-building boom was in full form, and with it the prestige of the Loire valley wines.

Most of the wines in this area are white wines with the main ingredients being the Chenin blanc and Sauvignon blanc grapes, but there are some red wines here who include a lot of the Cabernet franc grape.

☞ READ MORE: Visiting the Loire Valley

Wine Classification

As with the other French wine regions, a good bottle of wine from the Loire Valley will have the following appellations (in decreasing order of importance):

  • AOC –  Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée
  • AOP –  Appellation d’Origine Protégée
  • VDQSVin Délimité de Qualité Superieure
  • Vin de Pays – Wine of France

There are is only 1 Grand Cru and 1 Premier Cru wine in the area. Both are sweet Anjou wines as discussed below. You can read more about French wine labeling here.

Top Names in Loire Valley Wines

1. Pouilly Fumé

Type: White

Pouilly Fumé, which is often confused with Burgundy’s Pouilly Fuissé, is made from sauvignon blanc grape compared to Fuissé which is made from the chardonnay grape. It has a very fresh dry taste, compared to the Fuissé’s floral nutty taste.

It tends to marry well with seafood like salmon, tuna or shrimp.

Buy a Pouilly Fumé from the Loire Valley here.

vine leaves

2. Sancerre

Type: White, some red and rosés

Most of the wines in this area are white wines made primarily from the sauvignon blanc grape, but there are some light reds made from the pinot noir grape.

Sancerre white wines tend to be dry and acidic, with flavors of peach and citrus, going well with salads, goat cheeses, and seafood like oysters.

The rosés tend to have raspberry and strawberry flavors while the sancerre reds tend to be high in tannins with floral tones.

Buy a Sancerre here.

wine bottle

3. Chinon

Type: Mostly reds

The Chinon AOC along the banks of the River Vienne mostly produces red wines with the cabernet franc as its primary grape. The wines have a fruity aroma with sweet spices. They tend to go well with red meats, poultry, and light cheeses.

Buy a Chinon here.

wine bag

4. Muscadet

Type: White wine

The Muscadet is a white dry wine made from a unique grape variety called the melon from Burgundy. These grapes at times have a pink hue and so there are times that a Muscadet rosé is produced instead of white wine. Muscadet is a dry wine with floral and fruity tones. This wine is said to go particularly well with seafood.

Buy a Muscadet from the Loire Valley here.

wine in a box

5. Anjou-Layon

Type: Sweet wine

There is only one Grand Cru in the region called Quarts-de-Chaume  and one Premier Cru called Coteau-du-Layon-chaume. Both are sweet wines with sugar added before fermentation. The wines are usually paired with desserts, but can also be paired with apéritifs like fois gras, or blue cheeses..

Buy an Anjou from the Loire Valley here.

two wine glasses

6. Crémant de Loire

Type: Sparkling wine

The Crémant de Loire is very popular around the world, with the Loire region being the second-largest sparkling wine producer in France after the Champagne region. The production process for crémants is nearly identical to champagnes, with variations between each château’s production master.

However, only champagnes made in Champagne can be given that name, so the crémants of the Loire cannot benefit from champagne’s status.

Buy a Crémant de Loire here.

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☞ READ MORE: Easy Guide to the French Wines

So are more of Pouilly Fumé or a Sancerre? Or will you be going for a Crémant? As always, remember to drink responsibly!

A bientôt!

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Loire valley map
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Loire Valley Wines: A Guide to the Unassuming Wine Region

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