Discovering the Loire Valley wine region

The Loire Valley wine region (Vallée de la Loire in French) stretches along the majestic river of the same name covering the longest wine route in France (1,000 kilometers). This wine-making region is famous for its superb châteaux, its renowned dry white wines such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé and its incredibly rich history: the city of Orléans’ Gothic Sainte-Croix Cathedral is widely known for its association with Joan of Arc and the valley is the birthplace of the French language. In fact, it was added to the UNESCO’ World Heritage list in 2000 for its contributions to global culture

Take a look at the Loire wine map

Just two hours south of Paris, the Loire Valley wine region encompasses distinct wine sub-regions, each with its own characteristic grapes and appellations. All the wine styles in the book are produced in this region: world-famous whites, refreshing rosés, fruit-forward reds, dessert and sparkling wines. Wine tasting in the Loire Valley is a truly marvellous experience.

The Loire Valley wine region is France’s leading region with the highest number of establishments accredited by the Vignobles & Découvertes (Vineyards and Discoveries) quality marker. More than one thousand wineries are open to the public along the Loire Valley Wine Route, including 400 specially certified wine cellars (Caves Touristiques) that have been specially recognized for the quality of their visitor services, their regular opening hours, the variety of activities on offer and their guided tastings. Wine tourism at its best!

The Loire Valley wine region is very diverse in wine styles, climate, geography and geology and, for this reason, it can be divided into 3 primary growing areas:

  • Pays Nantais. Located on the Atlantic coast of Brittany, near the city of Nantes, this Loire Valley wine region is the largest white wine appellation in France and it is known for crisp, dry white wines -a match made in heaven for fresh seafood, specially oysters. The Pays Nantais is known for Muscadet wines, which are made from Melon de Bourgogne grapes (not the similarly named Muscat ones).
  • Anjou, Saumur and Touraine. The vineyards surrounding the towns of Angers and Tours lie in some of the most breathtaking scenery in France. Here, we find the best Chenin Blanc in the country, fantastic sparkling wines and the Loire Valley wine region’s best sweet wines.

                - Anjou: sumptuous Chenin Blanc AOCs for sweet wines like Bonnezeaux, Coteaux du Layon and Quarts de Chaume are born here.  Anjou is also home to Savennières, an incredible dry Chenin Blanc, as well as Cabernet Franc reds and rosés.

              - Saumur: thanks to the limestone soils in the area, outstanding Chenin Blanc-based sparkling wines are produced here. The imposing château de Saumur that takes center-stage in the namesake city can be visited throughout the year. Hundreds of kilometers of underground tunnels (now cellars where the bottles of bubbly are aged) were created as a result of the excavations left after building the region’s incredible castles. Saumur also produces the Saumur-Champigny AOC, one of the Loire Valley's most renowned Cabernet Franc wines.

                - Touraine: the so-called “Garden of France” includes famous appellations like the Vouvray AOC (from Chenin Blanc and Chinon) and some great examples of Cabernet Franc, like the Bourgueil AOC.

  • Centre Loire. The geographical center of France is home to the two most celebrated appellations of the Loire Valley wine region: Sancerre AOC and Pouilly-Fumé AOC, the wine world’s Sauvignon Blanc reference of excellence.

So head over to the famous Loire Valley to taste some incredible wines. Whether you are after the best expression of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc in France or simply intend to enjoy some days marveling at imposing French châteaux or learning about Joan of Arc’s brave story while sipping on fabulous sparkling wines or elegant Cabernet Francs, the Loire Valley wine regions will not disappoint.

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