The Loire Valley sits near Nantes in western France and is one of
the most beautiful winemaking areas in Europe. A narrow but wide
region that follows the Loire river, it spans from Auvergne and the
Massif Central mountains to the Atlantic coast.
Vines producing wine grapes have existed here since the Roman
invasion into the Loire Valley and some historians believe that the
vines could have been here since 380 AD when reds were made in the
surrounding hills and whites were fermented on the river banks.
The climate varies over this wide region. In the west Atlantic
weather and winter is the norm while the interior has cold winters
and warm summers.
Unlike the Bordeaux where 75% of production is red, in the Loire 75%
of the production goes to the creation of whites. The main grapes
are Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon. Most of the remaining quarter of red
is produced from Cabernet Franc, with some Gamay and Pinot Noir.
This area produces 400 million bottles which is the end product of
grapes frown in clay-limestone, siliceous and chalky soils. Types
range from dry whites to sweet; for red rose to fruity.
In the eastern part of the valley close to Pouilly and Sancerre,
many of the grapes used for winemaking are Sauvignon Blanc. These
produce the delicious dry, white Pouilly-Fume. The robust, dry
eponymous white is produced on the other bank around Sancerre.
In the province of Touraine which is further west, one will find
mostly Chenin Blanc, which produces the fruity Montlouis. The
glorious red Loire wines, Bourgueil and Chinon, mostly from Cabernet
Franc are also produced here.
On the right bank of the Loire river, near to Tours don't miss the
lovely dry Vouvray. This product of Chenin Blanc is grown in clay
infested with limestone and chalk. 13 million bottles are produced
in this area that is comprised of 5,000 acres.
Anjou-Saumur neighbors Touraine to the west and produces a wonderful
white from Chenin Blanc that is famed for its smooth quality. Since
the 6th century winemakers have clustered around Angers. This area
is famous for the Rose d'Anjou, which is reported to have been
enjoyed by King Henry II of England. Any commoner will also enjoy
the oak aged whites from this region. The land covers 22,000 acres
and produces 55 million bottles.
The widest wine are of the Anjou region lies along the Layon river,
where the vines are protected by the hills, is Coteasux du Layon.
This area is best known for a sweet wine purported to be from a
recipe that is 15 centuries old. The harvest in this area comes late
because the growers choose to leave the grapes on the vines until
they begin to over-ripen. This 4,450 acres of land produces nearly 7
The well-known Muscadet is also in the Loire Valley and sits in the
far west of this region. This area produces a pale white wine with a
dry, astringent taste. This is best when consumed fresh and young by
connoisseurs of any age. Nearly 100 million bottles are produced
from 31,000 acres of vines grown in granite soil.
Swirl the wine gently, sniff and taste.
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