It is hard to believe the Loire valley lies just an hour from Paris. Peppered with storybook châteaux and sleepy riverside villages, this bucolic region is one of the most captivating in France. But while the castles and scenery have won the valley a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List, its wines remain under-appreciated. Some of France’s most picturesque vineyards carpet the surrounding hills, covering the slopes in a patchwork of neatly lined trellises. Loire valley vintages might not have the prestige of Bordeaux or Burgundy, but thanks to the varied climate and terroir, they offer unmatched diversity. Use our Loire valley map below to navigate your wine tour.
The stretch of interest begins at Nevers, and using Loire à Vélo’s 800km of cycling routes, exploring the valley is a breeze. You’ll find there are numerous caves and châteaux vying to offer you a sip, or better a bottle, of their carefully crafted booze. Santé!
Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire
Sophisticated and rather pricy Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape, which is grown in the vineyards surrounding the neighbouring villages of Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire. Characterised by grassy and herbaceous flavours, you’ll find these wines are more restrained than their zingy New Zealand cousins. Pouilly-Fumé is generally the more complex of the two and the best will have a smoky mineral character, said to come from the flint soils found here. If you’re feeling a little too giddy to spot the difference, peaceful footpaths in the surrounding countryside provide the perfect opportunity to walk off a liquid lunch.