France is considered by most who appreciate fine wines to be the birthplace of wine; after all, it is the source of many grape varieties and winemaking practices used to create delicious wines worldwide. France is home to some of the most diverse wine regions in the world, and one of those is the much loved Loire Valley.
The Loire Valley Regions
The Loire river is the longest in France, and it may come as no surprise that it is located in the Loire Valley. This stunning location is known for its grand chateaux and fertile green landscape, making it the ideal region to produce a wide variety of wine styles, from splendidly sparkling Crémant de Loire to aromatically crisp Sancerre. A fine wine enthusiast would be spoilt for choice on visiting the region with the vinyards available to visit offering wine tours, wine tastings and holidays.
Because of its lush green landscape, the Loire Valley has been coined the “Garden of France”, and this vast area stretches up from the estuary of the Atlantic Ocean to the inland region of central France. The climate is somewhat cooler than the wine regions further south, which influences the grapes that grow there. The Loire Valley is the third largest wine producer in France.
Because the Loire Valley wine region is so vast, there are three sub-regions, including the upper, mid, centre, and lower, each of which have their own unique microclimate. The lower region is closest to the Atlantic Ocean and has a damper climate, and the mid and upper regions are drier as one would expect with a limestone terroir.
What Makes Wines of the Loire Valley So Special?
It is this unique diversity within the valley that makes the wines in this region so special.
The Lower Loire Region or Pays Nantais
This salty sea region is perfect for growing light wines that pair well with seafood, as you can probably imagine. Humid summers, drenching winters, rocky and sandy soil all provide natural drainage for the vines. You will find fine Melon and Pinot Grigios from this region.
The Middle Loire Region or Garden of France
This region is visually breathtaking and provides equally impressive wines. Chenin Blanc thrives here, producing aromas and tastes as if sampling the kitchen garden in a 10 course tasting menu at a French chateau. Dry light, sweet dessert, sparkling, rose, and light bodied reds wines are all produced in this area.
The Centre and Upper Loire or Centre of France
Home to the world renowned Sancerre and, of course, the crisp, clean Sauvignon Blanc. This area is flanked by three rivers, including the Loire, the Indre and the Cher. All help create a climate that is much drier and warmer than the coastal region of the valley. Wines found in this region close to Burgandy include Pinot Gris, Gamay and Pinot Noir.
The joy of drinking fine wines can transport you to somewhere else in the world with just a sip or by simply taking in the aroma of wine. There is something for everyone in the diverse wines of the Loire Valley.