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The Loire Valley wine region, located in central France along the Loire River and its tributaries, is famed for its dry, white wines such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. The wine region is filled with vineyards, farmland and beautiful chateaux. Overall, the Loire Valley – which includes famous towns as Orleans, Tours and Nantes – is approximately two-thirds the size of Bordeaux.
While the region of the Loire Valley is known most of all for its white wines, it also supports the production of sparkling wine (Crémant), dessert wine and even rosé. The most popular white grape varietals in the Loire Valley include Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne. Popular red grape varietals include Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Pinot Noir.
Overall, there are 87 different appellations within the Loire Valley, which is divided into the Upper Loire, Middle Loire and Lower Loire. Wines from the Loire Valley are known for their fresh, crisp flavors as well as the fruity notes and top-notes.
Winemaking in the Loire Valley dates all the way back to the Roman settlement of Gaul in the first century AD. From that time forward, wine from the Loire acquired a legendary character. During the High Middle Ages, for example, the wines of the Loire were more highly prized than the wines of Bordeaux.
Notable wine districts within the Loire Valley include Sancerre & Pouilly-Fumé, Vouvray, and Touraine, Chinon and Muscadet. In terms of climate, the Loire Valley is continental, although the westernmost edges of the region closer to the Atlantic Ocean experience more of a maritime influence.
Traditionally, the Loire Valley has been the home of family-owned wineries with estate bottling operations. However, over the past 20 years, that system is starting to change to favor larger wine-making cooperatives.
Here is a brief audio guide on Loire Valley wine region. Check it out.