For the second part of our series, we move to the middle #Loire. This encompasses the regions of Anjou-Samur and Touraine, and stretches east from Angers to Orléans. This is a very diverse region evidenced by the number of grape varieties and styles that are grown and produced here. Let's dive in! The regions experiences a maritime climate with continental influences. This means the region experiences stormy weather and humidity from the maritime influence, but also significant seasonal swings from the continental influence. Overall, the temperatures are slightly cooler in Winter, and slightly warmer in Summer. Ideal sites face south to capture the most warmth and sunlight. These factors along with soil diversity, produce wines with bright acidity normally associated with cooler more northern areas.
-Anjou soils split into two categories: schist and tuffeau (chalk). The tuffeau is interspersed with pockets of clay, gravel and shale.
-Samur has tuffeau as well, with pockets of sand.
-Touraine has tuffeau in the hillsides plus purruche (flint + clay) and aubuis (limestone + clay). - Both perruche and aubuis have pockets of gravel (gravieres) + sands.
Grapes: White Grapes:
Chenin Blanc aka Pineau de la Loire, Gros Pineau-principle grape
Arbois aka Orbois, Menu Pineau
Cabernet Franc aka Breton and indigenous to the Basque region-principle grape
Grolleau aka Groslot-indigineous to the region
Pineau d'Aunis-indigineous to the region
Pinot Noir aka Auvernat Noir
Pinot Meunier aka Gris Meunier
Malbec aka Côt
The middle Loire covers all styles of wines; sparkling, white, red, sweet. The Anjou appellations are centred around the town of Angers. Let's look at them.
There are several styles of sparkling wine in the middle Loire.
Pétillants: means fizzy. These are delicate sparkling wines with 1-2.5atms of pressure and are made in the méthode traditionelle.
Mousseux: means frothy or bubbly. These wines are also made méthode traditionelle and have 3atms of pressure. Most have a 9 month minimum sur lie ageing requirement.
Crémant: also made méthode traditionelle and must have minimum 12 months sur lie ageing and 1 month in bottle before release. There are also regulations governing pressing weight of grapes/volume of juice extracted).
Sweet wines: are made exclusively from Chenin Blanc grapes. They are given long 'hang-time' on the vine to increase sugar levels and may be affected by botrytis. Some can have as much as 25% (250g/litre) residual sugar!
Anjou Blanc AOC: basic dry or off-dry whites made from min 80% Chenin Blanc.
Anjou Rouge AOC: based on the two Cabernets.
Anjou Villages, Anjou Villages Brissac AOCs: made from Cabernet Franc & Sauvignon.
Anjou Şamay AOC: made from gamy and are light and fruity.
Anjou-Coteaux de la Loire AOC: sweet wine from Chenin Blanc.
Anjou Mousseux AOC: white and rosé made primarily from Chenin Blanc.
Bonnezeaux AOC: sweet wine.
Cabernet d'Anjou AOC: off-dry rosé made from both Cabernets.
Crémant de la Loire AOC: white and rosé made primarily from Chenin Blanc.
Sweet wine AOCs: all made with Chenin Blanc.
Coteaux du Layon Chaume 1er Cru
Coteaux du Layon
Coteaux du Layon + Village
Coteaux de L'Aubance
Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru
Rosé D'Anjou AOC: off-dry rosé.
Rosé de Loire AOC: dry rosé-always.
Savennières AOC: made exclusively from Chenin Blanc, and are regarded as some of France's most age-worthy wines. There are also two noteworthy climats that have been awarded their own AOCs:
Savennières Coulée de Serrent AOC
Savennières Roche Aux Moines AOC.
Samur AOCs: are known for their sparkling wines, and is the largest producer of sparkling wine in France! Fines Bulles translates as fine bubbles and is a general term for sparkling Loire wine.
Cabernet de Samur AOC: rosé made from both Cabernets.
Coteaux de Samur AOC: off-dry to sweet late-harvest whites.
Samur Blanc AOC: still white.
Samur Rouge, Samur-Champigny, Samur Puy-Notre-Dame AOCs: all made primarily from Cabernet Franc.
Samur Mousseux AOC: sparkling made primarily from Chenin Blanc.
Samur Mousseux Rosé AOC: sparkling made primarily from Cabernet Franc.
We now turn to the AOCs of Touraine:
Bourgueil AOC: still reds and rosés made primarily from cabernet Franc.
Cheverny AOC: reds and rosés primarily from Pinot Noir.
Chinon AOC: reds are primarily Cabernet Franc, and whites are 100% Chenin Blanc.
Coteaux du Loir AOC: whites from Chenin Blanc and reds/rosés from Pineau d'Aunis dominant blends.
Coteaux de Vendômois AOC: whites are made with Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Reds made with Pineau d'Aunis, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Rosés are 100% Pineau d'Aunis.
Cour-Cheverny AOC: dry whites, 100% Romorantin.
Crémant de Loire AOC: sparkling.
Montlouis-Sur-Loire AOC: dry or sweet whites from Chenin Blanc.
Montlouis-Sur-Loire Mousseux and Pétillant AOCs: sparkling.
Saint-Nicolas-De-Bourgueil AOC: dry reds/rosés from cabernet Franc.
Rosé de Loire AOC: see previous.
Touraine AOC: Whites are blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Gris. Reds/rosés are blends primarily from Cabernet Franc.
Touraine Mousseux and Pétillant AOCs: sparkling.
Vouvray AOC: dry and sweet whites from Chenin Blanc. Some may be affected by Botrytis.
Vouvray Mousseux and Pétillant AOC: sparkling from Chenin Blanc.
As you can see, the middle Loire is quite a diverse/complex region to understand. The next and final instalment will be the centre Loire.
It will be a lot shorter...promise!!
As always, leave your comments and questions.