The Loire Valley happens to be one of the largest wine regions in all of France and is such an abundant growing area that it’s known as the “Garden of France.” At almost 190 miles long, the Loire Valley region starts just outside of Paris and runs along the Loire River down to Orleans and west to the Atlantic ocean.
Because of the vastness of this region, it’s split into smaller areas: Lower, Middle, Centre, and Upper Loire. These areas are home to some very famous appellations like Vouvray, Muscadet, and Sancerre. Pay Nantais, also known as Lower Loire, is the coastal, maritime region that lies along the Atlantic and has a fairly different climate than that of Centre Loire which is much closer to the middle of the country.
The Loire Valley produces such a wide range of wines that it would be pretty tough to cover them all. However, it is important to note the major grapes that are grown here to give an appropriate picture of the reach that this appellation has.
Sauvignon Blanc is a major grape of the region particularly because of its role in Sancerre, which is one of the biggest varietals produced in the Loire Valley. On the other side of the river is the Pouilly-Fume AOC which also produces Sancerre but that small distance creates a totally separate tasting experience. A Sancerre from its namesake appellation is full of fresh, crisp notes like citrus and even grass or herbs, while that of the Pouilly-Fume AOC has a strong minerality and smoky palate.
Cabernet Franc (also known locally as Breton) is easily the most popular red in the Loire Valley, particularly from the Anjou-Saumur and Touraine region, and is actually part of the global standard for all Cab Franc around the world. Loire Valley Cab Francs are lighter in body but still fulfilling and have a reputation for aging beautifully.
Chenin Blanc is another grape that does well in the Loire Valley and is featured heavily in Vouvray and can have a wide range of styles depending on the location. Many are dry and acidic with strong notes of citrus and fruit like those from Savennières and Vouvray. In Coteaux du Layon and Quarts de Chaume, the grape is more susceptible to noble rot which provides that sugary sweetness found in the dessert wines.
The list of wines produced in this huge region is fairly long but being that they are from Old World France, they are of the highest quality and easily found in other parts of the world.
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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