Chinon wine tours explore some of the Loire Valley’s most revered red wines amid a fairy tale city

Chinon is arguably the most recognised red wine appellation of the Loire Valley, a key wine growing region in western France that is more commonly associated with its white wines.

The Loire Valley features some of the most scenic countryside anywhere in France, with vineyards set among rolling hills and some even accompanying the grounds of majestic medieval castles. Although white varieties made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay account for the majority of the region’s production, its red wines are becoming increasingly more popular igniting interest in Chinon wine tours.

While the tannic, berry scented Cabernet Franc red grape undoubtedly dominates the vineyards around Chinon and its neighbours Saumur and Bourgueil, lighter bodied wines from Pinot Noir, Malbec and Gamay also play a part. The reputation of Chinon’s wines has been enhanced by the Renaissance scholar Francois Rabelais who was born in the city and made references to its wine in the plays he wrote – a statue of Rabelais stands in Chinon while the region's Université Francois Rabelais is named in his honour.

At Wine Paths, our local expert can organise an exclusive Chinon wine tour that can include elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and unique activities across the Loire Valley. Our private Chinon wine tours can be tailor-made to meet your exact requirements, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and enjoy the matter at hand – enjoying some of France’s premium wines in beautiful rural settings.

Among these is our private Chinon wine tour and Rivau experience, which includes a guided tour of the city and various tastings as well as a gourmet lunch at the resplendent Chateau du Rivau. Situated on the banks of the River Vienne, the city of Chinon resembles a preserved museum of medieval architecture with Renaissance town houses sharing company with a fortress built by Henry II Plantagenet and Richard the Lionheart – while the town is also historically renowned as the place where Joan of Arc met King Charles VII in 1429.

The town is best seen from the 13-arch bridge that spans the Vienne, which gifts spectacular views over the river and fortress with the original medieval town wedged between them. But beware, with over 100,000 visitors every year, the Chinon can become crowded – especially since it is the only prefecture town in France without a single traffic light.

After a guided tour of the town, you will be taken to a local winery for tastings of several premium wines before the opportunity to explore the magnificent Chateau du Rivau, a beautifully restored French castle set in the heart of Touraine. With its protective drawbridge and glorious gardens, the castle could provide the scene for a fairy tale and is an ideal destination to enjoy the local cuisine paired with more wines from the domain. The tour ends with a visit to Cravant les Coteaux, one of the most famous villages for Chinon wine where you can sample exquisite reds and roses before returning.

For a more inclusive experience of the region, Wine Paths’ tour of must-taste Loire Valley wines encompasses not only a guided Chinon wine tour of the city but also the nearby domain of Vouvray, which includes a visit to an organic vineyard created in 1875. The red wines sampled on a typical Chinon wine tour vary from light-bodied and fruity styles that resemble decent Beaujolais to the more medium-bodied Cabernet Franc varietals that are produced from the cooler parts of Bordeaux.


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