The Loire is one of the great rivers of France and its vineyards cover the largest geographical area of any of France’s great wine regions. Although the Loire river reaches the Atlantic Ocean at St Nazaire in the west of France, incredibly it begins life over 1000 km away, in the South East, at Mont Gerbier de Jonc.
For this reason Loire wines are many and varied; although it is for dry white wines that the Loire is most famous, it also produces some very nice sweet whites as well as rosé and red wine. And one common characteristic is that they are all of a good quality with a great aptitude for ageing in the bottle.
Great Loire wines
- Muscadet – these dry white wines are to be found in the area around Nantes, close to the Atlantic ocean. The area around Chinon is responsible for Anjou rosé, Touraine reds and the superb red, St Nicolas de Bourgeuil, which is virtually unknown outside of France. Anjou rosé’s are medium dry and pleasant and light to drink. They have distinctive tear drop shape bottles. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé wines are found in the area north east of Bourges. Sancerre wines are dry and suitable for ageing in the bottle.
Our favourite Loire wines
- Under Muscadet it’s worth mentioning Lesley’s all time favourite Sevre et Main, but always look for the bottle that has sur lie embossed on the glass.
- Domaine de L’Ete, Côteaux de Layon 1999 – sweet desert wine, great value at less than 5 Euros – this comes from a small area called Côteaux du Layon and is located south of the Loire river to the south of Angers. Domaine de L’Eté is stocked either by Carrefour.
- On the latest holiday we found a new sweet Loire wine….Flânerie de Loire….in an Intermarché.
- St Nicolas de Bourgeuil is our favourite Loire red.
Visits to Vineyards and Museums
We can highly recommend visits to:
- St Nicholas vineyard – Clos de Vigneau, in a lovely setting on the main D35 road in St Nicholas de Borgueil . A very friendly family – the vineyard has been in their family for several generations – they spent time showing us around their business and of course sampling their fare! Some English is spoken.
- St Leger de Montbrillais – Tel: 05 49 22 41 03 (Msr Lionel Renard, visits by appointment only). This is an incredible vineyard, really worth taking time to see. It is a family business with wine matured in troglodyte cellars where previous generations of the family used to live! These people are very friendly, but be warned – you will have a lot of wine to sample – both white and red. So make sure you have a driver who can resist the temptation! Limited English.
Loire specific websites
Our favourite food and wine in France: