Loire Valley Wines
The Loire Valley is the third largest wine region in France and produces exciting Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Magnificently contoured by the Loire River it includes fifty controlled appellations from the Atlantic to Pouilly-sur-Loire. The region has been World Heritage classified by UNESCO since 2000 and can be explored via an extraordinary 800km wine trail that weaves its way through the valley.
Climate of the Loire Valley
The climate is temperate in general but varies from the East to the West. Closer to the Atlantic, Pays Nantais and Anjou have an oceanic climate; breezes cool down the vineyards after a sunny day and winters are mild with a relatively stable temperature. The sunshine and the precipitation can vary greatly year to year but this creates terrific and exciting variation each vintage.
In Saumurois and Touraine the climate is semi-oceanic but subject to continental fluctuations. There are also many geographically created microclimates.
Soil Composition of the Loire Valley
At the eastern extremity of the Loire Valley, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé have a continental climate; cold winters, hot summers and cold nights. They also benefit from frost mitigation provided by the mighty Loire River.
The soils types in Pays Nantais follow three main compositions: sandy, acid rock (rich in potassic minerals) and ferromagnesian soils. In Anjou, the soil types are mainly argillite slates, sandstones and schist. Touraine and Saumurois are dominated by chalk limestone from the Paris Basin. Closer to the Loire and Vienne Rivers, the terraces are made of sand and gravel. Finally, on the east side of the Loire Valley, along the Loire River, flinty, clay soils dominate. Pouilly-Fumé is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc’s flinty aromas.
Varietals of the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley has stunning diversity due to its size and shape. There are countless exciting and unique wines, but interestingly, there are fewer grape varietals.
In Pays Nantais, the Melon de Bourgogne dominates. In Anjou and Saumur the white wines are made of Chenin Blanc and the reds are made of Cabernet and Gamay. In Touraine and in the Centre (Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre) the wines are made of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir with the occasional inclusion of Romorantin, Grolleau, Malbec (or Cot) and Pinot Meunier.
The region is producing a range of styles, from Crémant, sparkling whites and reds, dry whites and reds and even sweet wine. All these are made with great mastery and enjoy a stellar international reputation and high demand.