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France

Loire Valley

  • The Loire Valley is quite a diverse wine region, with many different wine styles and grape varieties. The region is divided into four parts from west to east: the Nantais, the Anjou, the Touraine and the central vineyards.

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  • The Nantais region is closest to the Atlantic Ocean with a damp, temperate maritime climate. The soil is mostly schist and gneiss. This region is known for its Muscadet grape, also called Melon de Bourgogne. The finest Muscadet is produced in the subregion of Sèvre et Maine. It is common to find the mention of “sur lie” on the label, meaning that the wine was aged on its lees at least until the first of March and sometimes until the 15th of October. This gives the wine a slight creamy yeastiness and texture. Along with the other main wine produced here, Gros Plant or Folle Blanche, Muscadet is a light, crisp wine that is classically served with briny oysters.

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  • The Anjou region runs along the Loire River to the east of the Nantais. It is most well known for sweet and dry whites from the Chenin Blanc grape and reds from Cabernet Franc. The Chenin Blanc from this region has great complexity and depth on the palate. Because of the variety’s high acidity, the wines are able to age gracefully for decades. Savennières is the most well known wine and is usually dry, while the Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux are the two top regions for sweet, botrytis-affected whites. Other sweet wine appellations include Coteaux du Layon, Anjou Coteaux de la Loire, Coteaux de Saumur, and Coteaux de l’Aubance. Some Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are also produced here.

    Saumur Champigny produces some of the best Cabernet Franc wines. Gamay and Cabernet Franc are used in Anjou Villages, and the native Grolleau and Pinot d’Aunis are often vinified as a rosé.

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  • The Touraine is mainly known for Vouvray, the commune where Chenin Blanc is produced in dry, off-dry, sweet and sparkling styles. The same grape is produced in neighboring regions, such as Montlouis, Jasnières and Coteaux du Loire, among others.

    The Touraine is also the home to Chinon, Bourgueil and St. Nicolas de Bourgueil, which produce light bodied but delicious red wines.

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  • The Central Vineyards of the Loire include Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. These two famous areas sit on opposite sides of the Loire River and produce whites from Sauvignon Blanc and reds from Pinot Noir. The wines of Sancerre tend to be more floral, while those of Pouilly Fumé are more smoky, hence the name “fumé,” or mineral. Reuilly, Quincy, Menetou Salon and Coteaux du Giennois are less well-known regions producing the same wines.

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