A journey through the Loire Valley wine

The predominant Loire valley wine are spiced, mineral, smoked, saline white wines; refreshing rosés, fruity and subtle reds, sweet wines, sparkling wines… a whole treasure trove of excellent quality wines that are often overshadowed by those made in Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne. Elegant, long-lived and strangely undervalued, this is the Loire Valley wine. Let’s take a walk through the “Garden of France”.

loire valley wine

To start with, let’s see where we are.

The Loire is the longest river in France. It’s over a thousand kilometers long and starts life in the Massif Central, in the heart of France, and flows through the country until it reaches the Atlantic, in the city of Nantes.

This area is the third largest wine region in France by size, and is home to around four thousand wineries on both sides of the river that are part of over 80 denominations.

The Loire Valley has large wine-producing areas, but it also sees the production of some other typical French drinks. It is north of Cognac, and south of Normandy, a region where cider is one of the flagship products, and west of Burgundy, home of some of the most famous wines in the world.

Now we know where we are, how about a quick look at the history of Loire valley wine?

Gaul was conquered in the 1st century AD  by the Romans, who helped to expand vine cultivation. They realised they had a valuable waterway (the Loire River) that meant they could move goods throughout the empire and they also learnt that the land by the river was perfect for grape growing.

In the Middle Ages, the prime location of the Loire Valley meant the French aristocracy chose it as a “summer retreat”, and dozens of imposing castles were built in the region. As well as that, monks of the Catholic Church took care of the vineyards that thrived there, and these two realities led to an increase in popularity of the wine produced in the area.

So, what makes the Loire Valley special for winemaking?

The large area of vineyards is so diverse in terms of soil, climate and geography that it produces such a wide variety of wines with such different characteristics. This diversity resulted in the Loire Valley being divided into three general and distinctive areas of wine production.

Lower Loire, Middle Loire and Upper Loire.

For now, let’s take a walk through the westernmost region of the Loire Valley.

The Lower Loire, which covers the area of Pays Nantais, is home to the largest denomination, in terms of size, in the whole Loire ValleyMuscadet AOP (Appellation d’ Origine Protégée). In this case, Muscadet is the name of the Loire wine, rather than the name of the place or grape. Dry wines are made here using the Melon de Bourgogne grape variety. Muscadet is the perfect wine when it comes to pairing with local produce. It’s very dry, with a slight salinity, but with more structure than acidity. It goes perfectly with prawn, seafood or oyster dishes.

In the Lower Loire area, white wines are also made with the Folle Blanche grape variety, which is best known for being used in the production of Armagnac and Cognac.

Wines made with Chenin Blanc, the queen of the area, are beginning to appear, and in the Coteaux d’Ancenis AOP and Fiefs Vendéens AOP regions, some red and rosé wines are also made with Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir varieties as well as Grolleau, a local red variety.

We’ll pause here for now, but really this is just the beginning. We still have two areas of the Loire Valley to explore and many wine treasures to discover, but we will save those for the next chapter.

About Decántalo

We boast the best Spanish wine catalogue available online. We are constantly seeking the latest products and the most special bottles in hopes to enjoy the fascinating world of wine together. Do you share our passion for wine?
Esta entrada fue publicada en Designations of Origin and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply