There are almost 600 kms of vineyards running along the Loire valley and these can be grouped into four key sub-regions:
Nantais, Anjou-Saumur, Touraine and the Centre.
There is no regional, generic appellation for the region and just two AC wines carry the name of the region in their title – Rose de Loire and Cremant de Loire. But most AC wines from the region carry the ‘Val de Loire’ on their labels.
Wines from Nantais include the famous Muscadet AC, made from the grape of the same name. Most of these wines are dry and easy drinking, ideal when matched with fish and seafood. These wines are good value and should be drunk young.
Wines from Anjou-Samur are centred around the beautiful town of Saumur with amazing Chateaux and a warm but sometimes damp climate. Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc are the dominant grape varieties here. The best Anjou wines are made from Chenin Blanc and are often sweet in style. The best local Saumur wines are red, made from Cabernet Franc and tend to be light and fruity and easy drinking, especially if you chill them down and pair them with seafood and fish.
The region of Touraine includes Chinon AC, Bourgueil AC, Vouvray AC and St Nicholas de Bourgueil AC. Tours is the capital of Touraine and is a lovely town, well worth a visit.
Chinon is probably the best bet for red wine with a variety of style from light and fruity to more complex. But if you come across wines from St Nicholas de Bourgueil then give them a shot – they tend to be excellent quality and good value for money.
The Centre of Loire region produces the classic Sancerres, Pouilly Fumes, Menetou Salons and Quincy ACs, pretty much all from the Sauvignon Blanc grape.
Sancerre is probably the best known Loire white wine and at its best is crisp, dry and zingy. Sancerre also produces red wine from the Pinot Noir grape which tends to be light and easy drinking.
Pouilly Fume is also very well known and is also made from Sauvignon Blanc. Generally drink these wines as young as possible although the better ones will keep for a couple of years quite happily.
Finally keep an eye out for the wines of Menetou Salon, which are less well known than Sancerre and usually better priced considering the high quality.
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