The Loire’s vineyards run across several very diverse regions:
Around Nantes, Muscadet country
Around Angers, the Anjou-Saumur region
Around Tours, the Touraine wine region
In the Bourges area, the Central vineyards
A vast area taking in 12 ‘departments’. From west to east: Loire-Atlantique (depart. number 44 – capital Nantes), Vendée (85 – La Roche-sur-Yon), Deux-Sèvres (79 – Niort), Maine-et-Loire (49 – Angers), Sarthe (72 – Le Mans), Indre-et-Loire (37 - Tours), Vienne (86 – Poitiers), Indre (36 – Châteauroux), which is shaped like a vine leaf; Loir-et-Cher (41 – Blois), Loiret (45 – Orléans), Cher (18 – Bourges) and Nièvre (58 – Nevers).
Vines owe their existence in this area to Saint-Martin, who founded Marmoutier Abbey and was the Bishop of Tours around 380. It was the Loire, as an important waterway, that played a key role in wine exports and vineyard expansion.
With its variety of grapes, the Loire Valley makes all wine styles: reds (Bourgueil), sweet or dessert wines (Coteaux-du-Layon, Bonnezeaux, Montlouis) and fizz (Saumur, Vouvray, Montlouis).
From Angers to Orléans, 280 km of the Loire are listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Interloire (cross-regional wine body)
Vins de Loire (press info)
In the Nantes and Ancenis area
The Nantes weather is strongly influenced by the ocean with high rainfall.
Appellation areas: Muscadet (Melon de Bourgogne or Muscadet variety), Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine, Coteaux-d'Ancenis. Muscadet is one of the best matches for seafood.
Around Angers, Anjou-Saumur subregion
Appellation areas Coteaux-de-la-Loire, Anjou, Savennières, Quarts-de-Chaume, Bonnezeaux, Chaume, Coteaux-du-Layon, Saumur, Saumur-Champigny
The maritime climate is less marked as you head east.
The Touraine vineyards (Indre-et-Loire and Loir-et-Cher departments/regions) go from Bourgueil to Valencay and include the Sologne area.
Appellation areas: bourgueil, saint-nicolas-de-bourgueil, chinon, touraine-azay-le-rideau, jasnières (white wine made from Chenin Blanc, the closest vineyards to Le mans which explains why they go well with ‘rillettes’, a fatty pork terrine), coteaux-du-vendomois, cour-cheverny and cheverny in Sologne made from the romorantin grape), touraine-mesland, touraine-amboise, touraine-noble-joué, vouvray, montlouis, touraine, valencay.
With a slight maritime influence, winters are harsher.
and the Chenonceau site, historic château and wine producer: www.chenonceau.com
Monmousseau’s underground cellars
Amboise growers’ wine cellar
Montlouis: ‘maison des vins’ or wine shop, Domaines Taille aux loups and Chidaine (estates)
Old winegrowers houses in Vouvray
Les Loges old wine village
Vineyards of Rabelais country: Chinon, Clos de l'Echo’s vineyard
Around Bourges and Cosne-sur-Loire
The Central Vineyards have a continental climate: colder winters and hotter summers. King of grape varieties, Sauvignon Blanc rules in the appellation areas of sancerre (which goes well with the local goats’ cheese), pouilly-sur-loire (pouilly-fumé also from sauvignon), menetou-salon, quincy, reuilly.
Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins du Centre – umbrella trade association for the Central wine regions: sancerre, menetou-salon, quincy, Reuilly, coteaux-du-giennois, chateaumeillant, pouilly-fumé and pouilly-sur-loire.
VDQS - Vins de Pays
You’ll also come across these peripheral wine areas
Les Fiefs Vendéens in Vendée
Around Poitiers, the Haut-Poitou and Thouars vineyards
Châteaumeillant northwest of Montluçon
Côtes de Gien (Cosne-sur-Loire)
Wines from Orléan
Also vins de pays du Jardin de la France (literally ‘Garden of France country wines’), Coteaux du Cher and Arnon, Coteaux Charitois, Coteaux de Tannay.