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The Loire Wine Region Of France

Situated near Nantes in western France, the Loire Valley is one of the most picturesque wine making areas anywhere in Europe. Following the course of the Loire river, the valley meanders from Auvergne and the Massif Central mountains to the Atlantic coast.

The climate varies considerably over the wide area of the Loire valley with relatively mild weather in the west, influenced by the winds coming off the Atlantic ocean, to cold winters and warm summers in the east of the region and history shows that vines have been grown here for many centuries with wine being produced since 380 AD, if not earlier.

The main grapes of this region are the Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon which account for about three-quarters of the regions production as white wine, with the remaining one-quarter being red wine produced from Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes.

The vines of the Loire valley are grown predominantly in limestone and clay soils and production, which is approximately 400 million bottles annually, ranges widely from both sweet and dry whites to rosés and fruity reds.

To the east of the region around Pouilly and Sancerre the majority of the grapes used in wine making are Sauvignon Blanc and these are used to make the tasty dry, white Pouilly-Fumé.

Moving west into the province of Touraine the predominant grape becomes the Chenin Blanc, which forms the base of the fruity Montlouis. Some of the superb red Loire wines including Bourgueil and Chinon are also produced here, made mostly from Cabernet Franc grapes.

To the west of Touraine, Anjou-Saumur also produces a white wine from the Chenin Blanc which is famed for its smooth quality and winemakers clustered around Angers produce the well known Rosé d’Anjou which was reportedly a favorite of King Henry II of England.

But we cannot leave our brief tour of the Loire valley without a mention of Muscadet which lies at the far western end of the Loire Valley. Producing some 100 million bottles a year, Muscadet is known throughout the world for its pale dry white wine which is best loved when it is fresh and young.

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