France: Loire Valley

Around Angers

The birthplace of Chenin Blanc
By Jim Budd

This Guide was last updated on 19 April 2011
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Main appellations

Anjou

The cover-all appellation for all types of wine from this large district: red which may be made from Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pineau d'Aunis, singly or as a blend; white which may be anything from dry to sweet and from at least 80% Chenin Blanc, supplemented with Chardonnay (quite often for dry styles) and Sauvignon Blanc (very rarely here); and rosé, called Rosé d’Anjou (or sometimes Anjou Rosé), made mainly from Grolleau with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay and Côt. There is also sparkling wine that may be labelled Anjou Mousseux if not fitting the rules for Crémant de Loire (see below). This appellation also incorporates the vineyards of Saumur which are allowed also to use the Anjou AC but in practice they rarely opt for this AC as the Saumur appellation is better known.

Anjou Gamay

Separate appellation for Gamay often produced as a primeur launched at the same time as Beaujolais Nouveau. Mainly sold within the region.

Anjou Villages

Red only appellation, using Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, from selected vineyard areas within the Anjou appellation. Appellation dates from 1986 with the 1985 the first vintage to qualify, showing that quality reds are a recent development in Anjou. For much of the 20th century the production of rosé was much more important. Anjou Villages-Brissac is a sub-appellation, established in 1998, producing some of the best reds of the Anjou.

Cabernet d’Anjou

Appellation covering the same geographic area as Anjou, but reserved for medium dry rosé wines made using exclusively Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon. Before the rise of red wine in Anjou the best red grapes used to go into making Cabernet d’Anjou, which had a remarkable potential to age – examples from the 1940s are still showing well.

Anjou Coteaux de la Loire

This small appellation (120ha) for sweet wines is at the extreme west of Anjou on the south side of the Loire. The wines tend to be delicate and less sweet than those of the Layon.

Coteaux du Layon

A vineyard region of about 1350ha situated by the river Layon where the Chenin Blanc grapes are often affected by noble rot. Thus the appellation is for sweet white wine and the production yield is low (35hl/ha). Coteaux du Layon Villages encompasses six villages within 350ha where the yield requirement is even lower, 30hl/ha, and the wines better. Manual harvesting is obligatory. There is a separate designation for Séléction de Grains Nobles which requires a higher minimum sugar level at harvest and thus produces sweeter wines.

Coteaux du Layon Chaume

A very small area of 70ha from a single village near the river Layon making only sweet white from Chenin Blanc with a very low production limit of 25hl/ha.

Quarts de Chaume

One of the three crus of Anjou with only 50ha situated on slopes above the river Layon where the growing conditions are ideal for the only permitted wines - sweet wines from Chenin Blanc with a very low production of 25hl/ha.

Bonnezeaux

Another special, small Anjou cru of 120ha further up the river Layon, around the small town of Thouarcé and the hamlet of Bonnezeaux above. Here the soils (sandy shale with quartz) are very conducive to growing the permitted Chenin Blanc grapes to make sweet wines. Yield limited to 25hl/ha.

Coteaux de l’Aubance

South of Angers and north of the Coteaux du Layon on the banks of the Aubance tributary, this small appellation (160ha) within the greater Anjou area is exclusively for sweet white wines from low yielding Chenin Blanc, produced in similar conditions as Coteaux du Layon above. The wines tend to be a little lighter, more delicate often with more citrous flavours than the sweet wines of the Layon.

Savennières

The third cru of Anjou and on the right bank of the river Loire to the southwest of Angers, 124ha of vineyards close to the small village of the same name, producing only white wines from low yields of Chenin Blanc. Traditionally the wines were sweet, but today they are mainly rich, dry wines, showing a minerality that comes from the special soil type. In hot vintages some demi-sec and sweet wines are made. The vineyards, whose soils are slate and stony sandstone with some volcanic influence, are on four steep, southeast facing slopes and include the crus of Savennières Coulée-de-Serrant (7ha) and Savennières Roche-aux-Moines (34ha). Can be among the Loire’s greatest dry wines and capable of long ageing. The recent arrival of a number of new producers in Savennières has helped to shake up a sometimes underperforming appellation.

Rosé de Loire

Rosé that must be dry, made from Grolleau, Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay and Pinot Noir with at least 30% Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon. Although the appellation covers nearly all the Anjou and Touraine areas. most of the production is in Anjou

Crémant de Loire

Established in 1975 the Crémant de Loire production area covers the appellation zones of Touraine, Anjou and Saumur, and is principally made in the Saumur area. Only a small amount is made in Anjou. Ten per cent is rosé, the rest white and it is made by the traditional method with a minimum time of 12 months on the lees.

IGP (Vin de Pays) Val de Loire

Red, white and rosé produced over the whole of the Loire region and usually labelled as single varietal wines. After the Languedoc-Roussillon, the Loire is the 2nd largest regional producer of IGP (the former Vins de Pays). Sixty per cent of the production is red. Whites are based most often on Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Until 2007 this was called Vin de Pays Jardin de la France. Some other smaller Vin de Pays zones exist, whose names are occasionally used by certain producers.

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