The four large growing areas in Val de Loire
For a better geographical overview, the Val de Loire is divided into four wine-growing regions, which in turn are divided into numerous appellations:
- Pays Nantais
- Coeur-de-France (also known as Centre Val de Loire)
The Anjou-Saumur area is the gateway to the "Garden of France" and the region of origin of the Chenin Blanc, which is pressed here to produce complex and dense white wines with a great ageing potential. Already in the 13th century, the region was known far beyond its borders for its excellent white and red wines. Today, the total area under vines along the Loire covers about 20,000 ha.
Pays Nantais, with the city of Nantes in the centre, is situated at the mouth of the Loire on the Atlantic Ocean. On its 16,000 hectares of vineyards, mainly the Muscadet and Gros Plant varieties are cultivated.
In the Touraine region, around 10,000 hectares between Bourgueil and Blois are available for wine growing. On the banks of the Loire and Cher, numerous white and red grape varieties are cultivated on tufa soils and produce an annual average of around 500,000 hl of wine. Touraine is considered the home of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
The Coeur-de-France or Centre begins in the north of the Massif Central near the town of Gien. This is the home of the white grape variety Sauvignon Blanc. Especially the wines from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are known for their excellent quality. There are several reasons for this.
Firstly, in the AOC Sancerre, strict attention is paid to the fact that the yield of Sauvignon Blanc per hectare is a maximum of 60 hectolitres, a general quality characteristic for good wine. On the other hand, it is the terroir around the small town of Sancerre, with its different types of rock and soil, which ensures differentiated characteristics of the white wines produced there. Chalk soils to the west of Sancerre produce weighty wines that have an excellent ageing potential. To the east, flint predominates in the soil, which gives the wine very mineral and spicy notes. Other parts of the region are dominated by marl and gravel soils, which produce particularly fruity and balanced wines from the Sauvignon Blanc grape - all, of course, under the hands of the winegrowers who have returned to their long traditions and turned their backs on mass production. The freshness and vitality of Sancerre wines is also due to the fact that they are mostly aged without the use of wooden barrels.
Crémant de Loire
Besides the rosés and such famous white wines as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, the Val de Loire is especially famous for its Crémant. This sparkling wine is produced according to the traditional bottle fermentation. The designation Crémant de Loire is only authorised for sparkling wines produced in the appellations of Anjou, Touraine, Saumur and Cheverny. They are usually made from the grape varieties Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc Pinot Noir and Grolleau. Sauvignon Blanc, which is widely used in the region, may not be processed for Crémant.
2000 years of viticulture in Val de Loire
As is the case in so many wine-growing regions of Europe, the main impetus for targeted cultivation in the Val de Loire and its optimisation came from the Romans, who, after the conquest of Gaul at the time, helped to increase the area under vines in the Val de Loire to meet their own needs. The local Gauls, however, quickly acquired the knowledge of the Romans and ensured a constant development. Thanks to the relatively simple and safe transport on the existing waterways, it was soon possible to supply markets beyond the region.
What types of vines are grown in Val de Loire?
The great diversity of Loire wines is not only due to the different soils and climates, but above all to the many varieties of grapes that are pressed here. Some of the most famous ones:
- Chenin Blanc (also known as Pineau de la Loire)
- Sauvignon blanc
- Pinot Gris (or Pinot Beurot)
- Melon de Bourgogne
- Gamay Noir au jus blanc
- Cabernet franc
- Cabernet sauvignon
- Malbec (or Côt)
- Pinot noir
- Pineau d'Aunis (or Chenin Noir)
Despite the diversity within the large territory of the Loire, there are wines that have the same geographical names throughout the entire production area:
- the Rosé de Loire appellation for rosé wines
- the Crémant de Loire appellation for sparkling wines which may be produced in authorised areas throughout the Loire
- the Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France, a designation for country wine produced exclusively from one grape variety
Castles and wine in Val de Loire
The Loire is the longest river in France, at about 1,000 kilometres. The river stretches from the Massif Central in the east to Nantes in the west, flowing through numerous French provinces. Due to its many meanders, however, the distance from its source to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean is only 350 kilometers as the crow flies. Famous are the many castles that line its banks, making the Loire one of the most picturesque rivers in the country.
Geology and climate in the Val de Loire wine region
With such a large area under cultivation, as the Loire valleys and their tributaries represent, it is not surprising that the soil and climate conditions are also highly varied. Here, the roots of the vines bore their way into chalky, clayey and sandy soils, into light siliceous and heavy slate and flint soils, from which they absorb minerals and various nutrients that give the wines their different characters. Fruity, velvety red and rosé wines from the Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Malbec vines are just as much a feature of the Loire as dry to noble sweet white wines from the main varieties Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc, which offer fresh acidity, delicate aromas and fruitiness and go particularly well with seafood and fish.
There are also considerable differences in the climate, with Atlantic influences alternating with continental conditions in a west-east direction, so that a Muscadet from the Pays Nantais can hardly be compared with a Sancerre from the Centre Val de Loire.
In order to get to know the diversity of the Loire wines, a few tastings are necessary, because it is impossible to give a general definition of the wines from this wine region.
Order Val de Loire wine online from VINELLO
VINELLO offers you a representative selection of Val de Loire and Centre Val de Loire wines, which you can easily order online and have delivered to your home. You benefit from short delivery times, insured transport and a wide range of payment options.
If you would like more detailed information, please contact our sommeliers by telephone, who will be happy to give you detailed advice. We look forward to introducing you to the diversity of Val de Loire wines!