A journey through the paroxysm of the French art of living, taking the Loire wine route is to follow the entire route, following the river for more than 1,000 km, all the way to the Massif Central near the Roanne coast. But let's concentrate on the Pays de la Loire, where oysters and other shellfish go so well with a muscadet or a gros-plant-du-pays-nantais.
A tourist and tasty route
The Pays de la Loire happily combines wine growing and tourism. By following the wine route, visitors are invited to become part of the region's history, to share in the conviviality of the cellars and the festivals dedicated to Bacchus. There are many stops along this route with a local flavour. In Anjou, a museum dedicated to the vine in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay devotes collections and events to the wine-growing tradition; in Saumur, there are the Book and Wine Days (9 and 10 October 2021), the Anjou Wine Festival in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, the grape harvest at the château in Saumur, etc
The tourist route of the vineyards in the Loire Valley is therefore a territory that crosses 40,000 hectares of tasting! Introduced by the Romans, the art of winegrowing is one of the main treasures of the Pays de la Loire. Sweet, dry, sparkling, white, red or rosé wines, everyone can find something to their liking, among the many prestigious AOCs that flow from the Nantes region to Montsoreau, along this beautiful route, along which terroirs and vineyards can be discovered
Anjou, a paradise of sweet white wines
Its terroirs reveal a great diversity and its selected grape varieties produce a wide variety of wines. With dozens of appellations d'origine contrôlée, the vineyards of Anjou and Saumur offer a complete range of wines, both in colour and flavour. Loire, Layon, Aubance, Thouet... Curiously, it is water that serves as a common thread for the wines of Anjou and Saumur.
The sweet whites have consecrated Anjou, from the time when the Dutch traders followed the Loire from the Layon, before transporting them all over the world. These are the coteaux-du-layon with their flavour of quince and honey, and their two grand crus, the Quarts de Chaume and the Bonnezeaux, whose slopes rise above Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné and Thouarcé. The Layon is a golden and green wine not to be missed on the road to the vineyards and can be enjoyed as an aperitif or with foie gras... from Anjou.
Another great Anjou wine, the Savennières, a dry white wine, has made a name for itself with two appellations: La Roche aux Moines and La Coulée de Serrant, ideal for a seafood platter or a Loire fish. The rosé is to be drunk fresh and young, with fried eels or a plate of rillauds, that tasty pork belly confit in lard.
Traditionally devoted to whites, today's production is also oriented towards reds. The flagship of the Saumur region, the saumur-champigny leaves the head free after drinking; its aromas of wild berries are a delight to the palate, while the red anjou and the anjou-villages exhale their raspberry perfume.
The freshness of the cellars dug into the tufa rock and the know-how of the producers have combined to give birth to crémant-de-loire and saumur brut, great sparkling wines that will open the party or close with exuberance a colourful meal.
The starting point for the discovery of the Anjou vineyards, the Maison du Vin de l'Anjou located opposite the Château d'Angers, will present you with the tourist route of the Anjou vineyards. On foot or by mountain bike, you can visit the many wine cellars that inhabit these extraordinary hilly landscapes..
In Loire-Atlantique, mythical AOC wines
The Pays de la Loire has some mythical appellations d'origine contrôlée (AOC). At the top of the list is the Muscadet. An expression of the variety of the Loire-Atlantique terroirs, it is one of the oldest AOCs in France with no less than 4 appellations: Muscadet, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Muscadet Côteaux de la Loire and Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu. The Melon de Bourgogne is the only grape variety in the Muscadet AOC. Quoted by Rabelais in his "Fifth Book", Melon de Bourgogne may well have appeared as early as the 16th century on the banks of the Loire. It is one of the earliest appellation grape varieties in France. Depending on the appellation, it goes wonderfully well with seafood, fish, white meats, cheeses or simply as a refreshing, light drink.
The gros plant is the other essential element of the Nantes wine landscape. It extends fromAncenis to Pornic. It is to the area on which it is exploited, marked by a temperate oceanic climate alternating sunshine and rainfall that we owe its light and original finesse which makes its signature. It covers about 92 communes and occupies an area of 1400 ha. Created from the "Folle Blanche" grape variety, which first appeared in the 16th century, it was one of the first Nantes wines to seduce Dutch merchants and to conquer Northern Europe. It owes its name to the thick appearance of its vine. Like Muscadet, it is traditionally served with fish and seafood, especially small oysters, mussels and winkles.
In the Vendée, quality strongholds
The 450 hectares of vines in the Vendée have produced around 22,000 hl of wines classified as VDQS (vins délimités de qualité supérieure) since 1984. These Vendée strongholds are spread over a hundred producers located in four vineyards, all concentrated in the southern Vendée. The Mareuil vineyard produces rosé and red wines that are fine, fruity and full of bouquet, made from dominant Gamay, Cabernet or Pinot grapes; near the coast, the Brem vineyard, made from Grolleau Gris grapes, produces clear, fresh wines with a discreet apple aroma. The white wine of Brem is quite astonishing; the vineyards of Vix and Pissotte, situated further south-east, produce generous wines from the same grape varieties as those of the other regions, to which sauvignon and melon should be added.
Patience rewarded in the Sarthe
In Sarthe, for centuries, the vine has taken root on the stony hillsides, rich in flint clay, near La Chartre-sur-le-Loir. Jasnières, a rather dry white wine, was one of the first appellations d'origine contrôlée of Loire wines before the Second World War; it is secretly produced in the communes of Lhomme and Ruillé-sur-Loir. This original wine, with its beautiful amber colour and its renowned taste of gunflint, is a wine that can be kept for a long time: you can age it for 10 to 20 years. Patient wine lovers will be rewarded: it seems that after 10 years, or even 100 years, this surprising wine keeps getting better and better! It is one of the two AOCs produced in the Loir Valley, along with the Coteaux du Loir (white, rosé and red) which cover 22 communes in the Sarthe and Indre-et-Loire regions. The reds, made from Gamay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir or Pineau d'Aunis, with their peppery aroma, are a divine match for the classics of local gastronomy. Enjoy your wine tasting!
When to visit? All year round, of course. The harvest period, in September and October, is the best time to visit
How to get there. By plane, by train, by car, everything is possible.
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