Located in the northern part of central France, Loire Valley is a massive Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) region that contains 87 different appellations. The name is somewhat confusing since the actual Loire Valley runs along the Loire river and through the mountainous Cévennes terrain, yet Loire Valley AOC sits just north of this area.
A Little Bit About Loire Valley AOC…
Historians believe that winemaking in the region that’s now classified as Loire Valley AOC dates all the way back to the 1st century. Archaeologists have unearthed a plethora of gardening tools and artifacts which suggest that Romans brought grapes over during their settlement of Gaul (located in Loire Valley AOC). Over the years, winemaking here continued to grow and expand. The gamed Gallo-Roman poet and aristocrat Gaius Apollinaris wrote about the region’s wine in one of his books titled History of the Franks.
Loire Valley AOC is a versatile region that’s capable of producing a variety of red, white, rose, sparkling and even desert wines. With that said, the region’s primary focus is on white wines, such as Sauvignon blac and Chenin blanc. Loire Valley AOC wines tend to possess a more crisp, heavily acidic, and fruitful flavors than other regions, which is why white and desert wines are popular varieties here.
Note: the general consensus among wine experts and professional critics is that Loire Valley AOC wine goes through a period (typically between 2-5 years of age) where it temporarily loses some of its pleasing flavors and characteristics. If you’re going to purchase Loire Valley wine, drink it either before or after this period to ensure optimal quality.
The geography of Loire Valley AOC is broken down into three sections: Upper Loire, Middle Loire, and Lower Loire. The upper section contains mostly Sauvignon blanc varieties, while the middle section is base around Cabernet and Chenin blanc, and the lower section contains vineyards of Melon de Bourgogne.
Top Loire Valley AOC Wineries and Vineyards:
- Couly-Dutheil – Located in the Chinon region of Loire Valley AOC, Couley-Dutheil is a majestic winery with cellars built directly into the sides of steep mountains.
- Charles Joguet – This quaint little winery is known for their signature Clos de la Dioterie wine, which is aged in authentic oak barrels.
- Jean-Maire Bourgeois –Pioneered by Henri Bourgeois, Jean-Maire Bourgeois is a family-run winery in the Sancerre region of Loire Valley AOC.
With over 185,000 acres of wine vineyards, Loire Valley AOC is packed full of historic French wineries. So the next time you find yourself in the countryside of central France, be sure to check some of them out!