Loire Wine Tours

The Loire river is over 1000kms long and drains more than a fifth of France's land area, so what do we mean when we talk of 'Loire wines' ? How to make sense of such a long strip of wine-making activity, touched by widely differing climatic conditions and soil types?

Good organisation and planning are key. The Muscadets from the west of the region around Nantes are very fine and could be visited alone or as part of a larger wine tour. In terms of wine tours, the same could be said for the wine regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé to the east. Between those two geographical bookends you have a logical, contiguous strip running west to east – Anjou – Saumur – Bourgueil – Chinon – Vouvray. This is the section of the Loire Valley often referred to as the Garden of France, and is home to more fairy tale chateaux than you can shake a wand at.

Loire wine tours

Name a mainstream style of wine, and it's made somewhere in the region. Sparkling, dry or sweet whites, rustic reds, stylish rosés – the whole range is there. A selection of grape varieties are used, but this is the spiritual home of Chenin Blanc for whites and Cabernet Franc for reds. With so much going for it, the Loire might seem a recipe for somewhat confused wine tours. But no: with good planning, this can be a very rewarding region. Wine tours with a theme, or two, or more, might spring to mind, but my vagabond heart tells me that, with an intelligent choice of good wine makers, potluck might just win the day. Rest assured that French Wine Tours will make sense of this rather complex region for you.

Accommodation is available in the same bewildering variety as the wines. I will of course pick the best and most suited to your taste and pocket. Nantes, Tours and Orléans are great historical centres and perfect bases for wine tours.

 Loire Wine Tour Basics

  • Vines planted from Roman times
  • Impetus from royalty and the monasteries during Middle Ages
  • Nantes/Anjou: varied soils, climate influenced by Atlantic. Dry, supple whites, fragranced, fruity, floral, mineral, sharp, lively
  • Saumur/Touraine: soil mix of clay, shale and chalk, climate becoming more continental. Dry whites are aromatic, elegant, refined. Notable dessert wines from Coteaux du Layon. Rosés fresh, light and fruity. Reds fresh and agreeable
  • Centre: soil mix of clay and limestone, climate semi-continental. Dry whites are floral, fruity and honeyed. Dessert wines from Vouvray and Montlouis. Rosés are dry, fresh and fruity. Reds light and aromatic
  • Key tasting words: mineral, apple, honey, lemon, melon (whites); bell pepper, red berries, cherry, raspberry (reds)