The Loire valley is home to a wide range of wines, from Muscadet in the west, through Saumur-Champigny and Chinon, to Sancerre and  Pouilly-Fumé in the east.

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The diversity of the region is evident in the assortment of grapes used.

Melon de Bourgogne is used for Muscadet, while Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc feature heavily in appellations such as Vouvray and Saumur-Champigny.

By the time you reach Sancerre at the eastern end of the valley, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are more commonly found.

Appellations to know

The Loire Valley’s many wine appellations follow the meandering Loire river, the longest in France, and can be approximately divided into three sectors:

The Upper Loire


Grape varieties Sauvignon Blanc for the whites, Pinot Noir for the reds and rosés.
Terroir Clay and limestone slopes, Kimmeridgian marl, silex and flinty soils


Grape varieties Sauvignon Blanc, plus a small amount of Chasselas under the Pouilly-sur-Loire appellation
Terroir Limestone, silex, marlstone and clay

The Middle Loire

Famed for its Chenin Blancs, the Middle Loire also produces world-class Cabernet Franc and is home to one of the largest sparkling wine appellations in France.

Anjou, Anjou Villages, Anjou Villages-Brissac

Main grape varieties Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay and Grolleau for reds. Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay for whites
Terroir Anjou Villages has schist-based soils for ageworthy reds. Anjou Villages-Brissac stretches overs ten communes, also on schist-based soils


Grape variety Cabernet Franc (up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon is also allowed)
Terroir 50% gravel terraces, 50% Turonian limestone (tuffeau)


Grape variety Cabernet Franc (up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon is also allowed)
Terroir 75% gravel terraces and 25% Turonian limestone (tuffeau)Chinon

Grape variety Cabernet Franc (up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon is also allowed) for the reds, Chenin Blanc for the whites
Terroir Alluvial terraces, limestone slopes and clay soils
Top producers Domaine Bernard Baudry, Domaine Philippe Alliet, Charles Joguet, Olga Raffault

Coteaux de l’Aubance, Coteaux du Layon, Coteaux du Layon Villages, Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume

These five appellations produce sweet wines made from Chenin Blanc, using either late-harvest or botrytised grapes.

Terroir A large diversity of soil types, including sandstone, schist and quartz


Grape variety Chenin Blanc.
Terroir Turonian tuffeau and clay


Terroir Calcareous-clay (argilo-calcaire), with a high clay content
Grape variety Chenin Blanc

Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame

Terroir The famous tuffeau made up of sedimentary rock from the Turonian era, composed of chalky, sandy marine limestone
Grape varieties Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon


Terroir Tuffeau, as above
Grape variety Cabernet Franc

Côteaux de Saumur

Appellation name for a tiny amount of sweet wine made from Chenin Blanc

Saumur mousseux and Crémant de Loire

Sparkling wines produced primarily with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc


Grape variety Chenin Blanc
Terroir Schist. Two lieux-dits have cru status: La Coulée de Serrant (7ha) and La Roche-aux-Moines (17ha)


Terroir Large diversity of soil types, including flinty clays, sand and gravel
Main grape varieties Côt (local name for Malbec) and Cabernet Franc for the reds. Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc for the whites. Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay and Pinot Gris for the rosés


Grape variety Chenin Blanc (up to 5% of Orbois is also allowed)
Terroir Calcareous clay (argilo-calcaire), with flint-clay

The Lower Loire

Best known for its ‘Sur Lie’ bottlings of Muscadet, produced from the Melon de Bourgogne grape.

Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine, Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire, Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu, the Muscadet village crus, Muscadet

Grape variety Melon de Bourgogne
Terroir Sandy soils around the lake of Grandlieu, southwest of Nantes. Soils rich in foliated metamorphic rocks such as silica, schist and gneiss. A mosaic of soil types such as amphibolite and gabbro

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