Loire Valley Wine
Wine tasting is an informative and pleasant pastime, and part of learning about the rich culture and history of the Loire Valley. The local wines are good and plentiful – Bourgueil, Chinon, Saumur Champigny and Anjou Rouge are just some. Within easy reach there is a great variety of red, rosé and white wines – and sparkling versions of all three – plus some little known and interesting dessert wines. The sparkling wines of Saumur are widely recognised and much enjoyed.
Why visit the Loire Valley for wine?
The Loire Valley is the only wine growing region in France which produces high quality wines in every style. Red, white and rosé, still and sparkling, from dry to sweet. Whatever tickles your taste buds, there is always an excellent Loire Valley wine to suit the occasion.
So how big is the The Loire Valley?
The Loire Valley extends from Nantes to Clermont-Ferrand, with four main wine producing areas: Pays Nantais, Anjou-Saumur, Touraine and Centre, all four of which are within reach of Les Mortiers.
The Loire Valley wine region is spread out along the River Loire and its tributaries, and takes in 6 Administrative regions and 15 Départements:
- Auvergne: Allier, Puy-de-Dôme
- Bourgogne: Nièvre
- Centre: Cher, Indre, Indre et Loire, Loir et Cher, Loiret
- Pays de la Loire: Loire Atlantique, Maine et Loire, Sarthe, Vendée
- Poitou-Charentes: Deux-Sèvres, Vienne
- Rhône-Alpes: Loire
Why the variety of wines?
The weather is one of the key factors for this phenomenal selection of wines. The temperate climate is ideal for grape cultivation, thanks to the Atlantic Ocean’s moderating effect which reaches far inland. Gentle and pleasant, never too hot or too cold.
The Loire is the longest river in France, stretching about 630 miles from its source in the Ardeche to Sancerre in the centre of France and on to Nantes on the western coast of France. On its journey it flows over some of the richest agricultural land in France. River valleys of sand, hillsides of tuffeau and areas of flint, all giving their unique flavour to the individual appellations.
There is a long love affair in the Loire with excellent cuisine from simple, fresh ingredients which pair well with the selection of wines from the region. Oysters and Muscadet, Coteaux de Layon as an aperatif, Rosé for summer barbecues. Fruity or earthy Bourgueils and Chinons for gibier (wild game) and red meats.
This passion has also put Loire Valley among the world’s leading regions for organic and biodymanic wine – a perfect way to allow the fruit and terroir to be displayed through wine. The nearby vineyards of Saumur Champigny are full of wild flowers in bloom from Spring to Autumn, a true photo opportunity.
Noble rot – Botrytis Cinera – a fungus which rots and causes the fruit to shrivel is most welcome in Vouvray, Quarts de Chaume, Coteaux de Layon, Bonnezeaux and Coteaux de l’Aubance. When this occurs it concentrates the sugars and produces rich unctuous sweet wines.
The range of varietals in the Loire is quite astounding.
- Chenin Blanc
- Chenin Blanc originated in the Loire Valley and is grown throughout Anjou-Saumur-Touraine. The best known AOC are Vouvray, Anjou and Savennieres.
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Sauvignon Blanc there are seven AOCs producing single varietal wines. These are Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Quincey, Reuilly, Touraine and Coteaux de Giennois.
- Melon de Bourgogne
- Melon de Bourgogne is the only grape used to produce Muscadet.
- Folle Blanche
- Folle Blanche produces Gros Plant in the Pays de Nantais
A lesser known cepage for white wine is Romorantin (used for Cour-Cheverny) and cultivated on 200 hectares only.
- Cabernet Franc
- Known locally as Breton and used for Bourgueil, St. Nicholas de Bourgueil, Chinon – bright red fruits, earth and spices.
- Gamay was first produced in the region in the appellation of Touraine Mesland.
Lesser know cepages for red wines include Côt (known better elsewhere as Malbec), Grolleau – limited to 25% for Coteau du Loire, and Pineau d’Aunis (also know as Chenin Noir) an old Loire Valley cepage, now 1000 hectares only.
Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are grown, but are generally used for blending – to great effect with some of the sparkling wines. A small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon is allowable in certain appellations. e.g. Saumur Champigny.
Rosé is made from several varietals as a result of the first pressing of red wine. In bountiful years, there is plenty of rosé made. If the yield is low, then the grape juice usually goes to produce the full quota of red wine. Rosé is a great summer wine ranging from dry to fruity, earthy to spicy, pale pink to warm apricot.
Exploring Loire Valley wines
There are several ways of learning more about Loire Valley wines and opportunities for tasting. It starts with the first bottle to welcome you to Les Mortiers!
A walk in the vineyards
A very pleasant afternoon’s vineyard walk with an English speaking guide. This is at an easy pace, ideal for families, pushchair friendly and very informative, with explanations about the terroir, the vines and how wine is made. It is ends with a tasting and opportunity to buy wine.
Go it alone!
Over 16 years we learned a lot about Loire wines. This rack of bottles has our favourites and we keep details of each vineyard for our guests. One of the advantages of this part of the Loire is that you can buy wine from the viticulteur who made the wine as the vineyards tend to be smaller. Recalling the visit to buy the wine makes it even more of a pleasure!
Le Tasting Room
We highly recommend Le tasting room, who have a wide range of courses suited to those passionate about wine. From two hour tastings on Loire Valley Varietals or Simply Reds, a Day's Discovery or a Vineyard Cycle Tour, up to a Three Day Epicurean Experience. For more details Le tasting room.
Wine Fairs and Festivals
Le Grand Table of Saumur Champigny in early August (a table seating 7000 people), La fête des vins du Val de Loire in Bourgueil every 15th August and Le Marche des Vins in Saumur in September. Further details are entered in our Events List each year as dates are arranged.