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Wines to Grapes - France the Loire Valley

Often wonder what grape varieties are used to make a wine labeled by region, AOC, DOCG or Chateau?  In this third of a series we begin our exploration into one of the most complex countries when it comes to understanding wine labels – France.  With the exception of wines from Alsace, and a growing number of Vin du Pays wines, most French wine labels will not list the grape varieties on the label.  The only linkage between the wine and the grape variety must be decoded using the Appellation d'Origine Controlee or AOC listed on the label.  Each AOC has a list of “permitted grape varieties” from which wine bearing the AOC name can be made.  What makes this confusing aside from the French AOC names is the fact that there are over 300 AOCs in France.  So to help you learn about wine, we have developed the list below of the most common AOCs in the Loire Valley of France, and the grapes used in the production of each.  We've also included a handy cheat sheet that you can print out and take with you on your next visit to your favorite wine shop.    There are a total of 69 AOCs in the Loire Valley, each representing a geographic area from Nantes in the far west to Sancerre in the east.  Most of the winemaking is concentrated in the areas of Anjou, Saumur, and Touraine.


Each of the more common wines of the Loire is listed by its AOC designation, and cross referenced to the type of wine and the grape varieties used in production.  If the wine includes more than one grape variety, the dominant grape will be listed in bold.

 

Wine (AOC)

Type

Grape Varieties

 

Anjou Blanc

White

Chenin Blanc (at least 80%), Sauvignon, Chardonnay

Anjou Coteaux de la Loire

White

Chenin Blanc (Sweet)

Anjou fines bulles

Sparkling

Chenin Blanc (at least 80%), Sauvignon, Chardonnay.  Fines Bulles means fine bubbles.

Anjou Gamay

Red

Gamay

Anjou Rouge

Red

Gamay, Cabernet franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d'Aunis (Chenin Noir)

Anjou Villages and Anjou Villages Brissac

Red

Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon

Bonnezeaux

White

Chenin Blanc (Sweet)

Cabernet d'Anjou

Rose

Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon (Sweet)

Chinon

Red or White

Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon (10% maximum) White Chinon is made from Chenin Blanc

Coteaux de Saumur, Coteaux du Layon, Coteaux du Layon Chaume

White

Chenin Blanc (Sweet)

Cremant de Loire

Sparkling

Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d'Aunis (Chenin Noir).

Muscadet,
Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire,
Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu,
Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine

White

Melon de Bourgogne

Pouilly Fume

White

Sauvignon Blanc

Rosé d'Anjou

 

 

Grolleau (Grolleau Noir), Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d'Aunis, Gamay and Côt (Malbec).

Sancerre

White

Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir

Saumur Blanc

White

Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc

Saumur Champigny

Red

Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d'Aunis (Chenin Noir – uncommon)

Touraine

Red, White

Red - Gamay (more than 60%), Cabernet Franc, Côt (Malbec), Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d'Aunis (Chenin Noir), Pinot Noir.
White – Sauvignon Blanc (almost 80%), Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay.

 

Vouvray

White, Sparkling

Chenin Blanc.  Vouvray can be made with varying degrees of sweetness from off dry to sweet.

 

 

 

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·  Grapes to Wine - Spain
·  Grapes to Wine - Italy
·  Pouilly-Fumé - The Miniature Giant
·  Sancerre - Spiritual Home of Sauvignon Blanc
·  Wine labels from France


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