The city of Nantes in the Upper Brittany area of western France is part of the Loire Valley wine region – the country’s largest by land mass and arguably its most beautiful where vineyards mingle with medieval castles in glorious rural countryside.
Nantes itself is home to the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne, a restored medieval castle where the Dukes of Brittany once lived – it is now a local history museum with multimedia exhibits and the chance to stroll atop its fortified ramparts.
The city has enjoyed great rejuvenation over the last 20 years to become a vibrant and young metropolis that is often awarded for its quality of life. This has led to a rise in tourism and, with vineyards within touching distance from the town, taking a Nantes wine tour is a popular pastime. The wine growing appellations around Nantes are part of the Lower Loire Valley, of which Muscadet is the largest sub region and renowned for producing a range of crisp, white wines from grapes of the same name.
During a typical Nantes wine tour, visitors are taken to several respected wineries where they can explore the vineyards and cellars accompanied by a professional guide to explain the region’s characteristics and the wine making process – before sampling the fare themselves often paired with local cuisine.
At Wine Paths, our local expert in the Loire Valley can organise exclusive Nantes wine tours and experiences across other areas in the region, which can include elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and some unique activities. All of our private Nantes wine tours can be tailor-made to your own specifications, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and enjoy the matter of hand – sampling wonderful wines in the so-called ‘Garden of France’.
Made from Melon de Bourgogne grape, Muscadet is an ideal partner for fish and with the Atlantic Ocean nearby there are plenty of seafood eating options in the area. The salty seas breezes contribute to producing a bone dry, light-bodied white wine with almost saline qualities. Muscadet is also the original white wine used in the France’s beurre blanc (white wine with butter) sauce, which is a staple of the country’s cuisine.
Wine produced from the largest Muscadet AOP are always dry and best enjoyed when they are young and fresh. The wines are often underrated and typically inexpensive, while most of them are consumed locally and in the bistros of Paris since they accompany food so well. The other main wine varieties grown in the region are Folle Blanche, which is only found in the Gros Plant de Pays Nantais AOP, and Pinot Gris, which is generally used for minor blending.
Of the other main appellations that can be visited during a Nantes wine tour are Muscadet de Sevre et Maine AOP, which is found on 70-80% of labels. Many producers here age their wines to give them more supple flavours and a spritzy taste.
As mentioned, the Gros Plant de Pays Nantais AOP is the only region in France to create white from Folle Blanche grapes, which are famously used for distillation into Armagnac and Cognac. Elsewhere, the Coteaux d’Ancesis AOP has some of the only red and rose wines that can be found in this part of the Loire Valley region. Made from Cabernet Franc and Gamay, they are fruity and dry in flavour.
Finally, the Fiefs Vendeens AOP that lies south of Nantes is slightly off the well beaten tourist trail but produces refreshing dry white wines from Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Melon du Bourgogne.
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