Loire Valley Wines

About the wines in the area

Although many people think of the Loire as white wine country, a little under half of Loire wines are either red or rosé. Saumur Champigny, Bourgueil, Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil and Chinon form the centre of the Loire’s red wine production. Based almost exclusively on Cabernet Franc, this is the source of the Loire’s finest reds, with the possible exception of top Sancerres made from Pinot Noir. There is a range of styles from easy-drinking reds bottled early to enjoy young to much more structured wines, usually planted on the limestone hillsides, that need time and in good vintages will last twenty years or more.

There are also some very good dry and sweet whites from Saumur, the best invariably made from 100% Chenin Blanc. Not forgetting that Saumur is the largest producer of sparkling wine in France outside Champagne with Crémant de Loire now the most important appellation.

The underlying limestone rock, known locally as tuffeau, also provides the region’s characteristic honey-coloured building material and in the excavations, cellars for ageing wine as well as troglodyte dwellings on hillsides were formed. The string of lovely châteaux – both world famous and unknown – found east of Tours continues to the west. Azay-le-Rideaux, Chinon, Ussé (the sleeping beauty château) and Villandry are the best known. There are also many beautiful villages and little hamlets that nestle in the gently undulating countryside.

Wine producers to visit

Saumur - Langlois-Château

This is the Loire out-post of Champagne Bollinger. The Saumur sparkling wine house was established in 1912 when Edouard Langlois and Jeanne Chateau (no accent on Chateau) bought the Maison Delandes, which had been founded in 1885. In 1973 Champagne Bollinger acquired a majority holding. Langlois-Chateau now produces both sparkling – only Crémant de Loire – and still wines. Their top Crémant is the creamy Quadrille, a vintage made from Cabernet Franc (15%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), Chardonnay (30%) and Chenin (50%). Their best still wine is the Saumur Blanc Vieilles Vignes – 100% Chenin from the company’s own vines. It needs several years in bottle to show its best. A one-hour visit includes a guided tour around their 4km of chalk cellars as well as a tasting.

Bourgueil - Yannick Amirault

I doubt if anyone is making better wine today in Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil and Bourgueil than Yannick Amirault. He is undoubtedly one of the Loire’s top red wine producers. I love the purity of fruit in his wines and their texture – sumptuous in cuvées like La Petite Cave. Yannick has vines in both Saint Nicolas and in Bourgueil. His Bourgueils include La Coudraye, Les Quartiers and Le Grand Clos, while from Saint Nicolas there is La Source, La Mine and Les Malgagnes.

Chinon - Domaine de La Noblaie

These are winemakers who will really welcome you and help you taste the wines of a dedicated area. After belonging to several owners, the Noblaie was acquired in 1952 by the Manzagol family. Today the third generation of winemakers is working with the same passion. Jérome Billaud, who took over in 2003 having previously worked at Pétrus, Domimus in the Napa Valley and in New Zealand, is pushing Noblaie to new heights. Red, white and rosé Chinon are made here. La Noblaie is on the way to organic farming and, as such, applies and meets the specifications of organic certification. You can either just call in on your way to visiting Chinon or we can organise a private wine tasting for you on a specific day for a small charge.