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Wine and chateaux tours are an exciting way to visit this splendid part of France

Experience the real France - the Loire Valley

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Welcome to the Loire Valley!

loire valley holiday

The Loire Valley is often referred to as "the Garden of France" and the Cradle of the French Language (the city of Tours is reputed to speak the purest French.).

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in late 2000, the Loire Valley is also noteworthy for the quality of its architectural heritage. Historic towns such as Amboise, Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur and Tours, and in particular its world-famous chateaux (castles), such as the Châteaux Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chambord and Chenonceau.

The rolling riverine landscape of the Loire Valley - and more particularly its many cultural monuments - is redolent of the ideals of the Renaissance and the Age of the Enlightenment on Western European thought and design.

The valley is also known for its wineries, many of which we visit during our tours and for its gardens often, but not exclusively associated with chateaux. We can arrange visits to gardens and chateaux, in addition to our popular wine tours.

To quote UNESCO, the Loire Valley is: "an exceptional cultural landscape, of great beauty, comprised of historic cities and villages, great architectural monuments - the Châteaux - and lands that have been cultivated and shaped by centuries of interaction between local populations and their physical environment, in particular the Loire itself."

Wines of the Loire

There are 69 Controlled Place of Origin (AOC) (Appellations d’Origine Contrôlées) wines in the Loire Valley which are produced from the Atlantic coast at Nantes to Sancerre in the heart of France.

The wines of Anjou, Saumur and the Touraine come from the centre of this area, making up a total of 49 AOCs. For an explaination and full list visit this page.

Loire Valley AOCs offer a wealth of colourful oenological delights as there is a diverse range of still, rosé, white,red and sparkling wines produced throughout the region.

Our tours visit a number of these regions......

wine tasting

Touraine

Touraine is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the Loire Valley wine region in France that produce dry, white wines and red wines rich in tannins.

The wine-growing area extends over 5,300 hectares (13,000 acres) departments of Indre-et-Loire, Indre and Loir-et-Cher and comprises a total of 70 communes. This area covers several communes with AOC's in their own right.

The white wines are made from Chenin Blanc grapes (known locally as Pineau Blanc de la Loire), Sauvignon and Arbois grapes. The white Touraine wines are dry, fairly firm, lively, fruity and full, and keep well when bottled. The sparkling wines are allowed to use the designation "Touraine mousseux" (sparkling Touraine wine). Up to 20% of Chardonnay grapes may be included in the mixture of varieties grown.

The red wines are produced from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Côt, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris, Pineau d'Aunis and Gamay grape varieties (Gamay is used for wines marketed in the first year after production and those sold as primeur or nouveau). These wines are flavoursome and tannic in character. Touraine wines sold in the first year or production are light and fruity, as well as rustic.

The rosé wines are made from Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon, Côt, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris, Pineau d'Aunis, Gamay and Grolleau grape varieties. These wines are dry in character.

sauvignon grape vines

Valencay

Valencay is a recently promoted AOC wine appellation (it gained AOC status in 2004) that adjoins the Touraine appellation. While it extends across fourteen communes in two départements (Indre and Loir-et-Cher) its total extent is only 142 hectares.

Red wines are made from Gamay and Malbec (Cot), with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. Roses are made from the same blend of grapes and are light with ripe. soft fruit flavours.

White wines (still and sparling) are made from Sauvignon Blanc, Arbois and Chardonnay. They are excellent with the local AOC goats cheese.

quincy vineyard

Quincy

Quincy is an Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) of the Central Vineyards of the Loire region, which produces dry white wine. It grows in two communes: Quincy and Brinay in the department of Cher.

The AOC is only used for dry white wine. It can be delicate and fruity (citrusy), with hints of white flowers and pepper. It is a wine which keeps its quality for up to 4 or 5 years, although ageing does not improve the initial quality. This wine is best accompanied with seafood and fish from the Loire or after a meal with goat's cheese from the region such as Valençay, Pouligny-Saint-Pierre or Crottin de Chavignol.

vouvray wine cellar

Vouvray

AOC Vouvray is located in the Touraine district just east of the city of Tours in the commune of Vouvray.

Wine production in this area is dependent on climate conditions, with cooler years promoting the production of dry (sec) and sparkling Vouvray, while warmer, more favorable vintage encourages the production of sweet moelleux or liquoreux styles, produced by noble rot in a manner similar to the sweet dessert wines of Sauternes.

The region has AOC's both for Mousseux and Petillant sparkling and semi-sparkling white wines.

With the naturally high acidity of Chenin blanc, Vouvrays from favorable vintages have immense aging potential with some examples drinking well into 100 years of age.

Across the Loire River from Vouvray is the Montlouis AOCwhich produces Chenin blanc based wines like Vouvray that are under-rated and less known than its neighbour across the river.

 

Wine tours are a wonderful way to visit the region but gardens and chateaux are also great attractions. More on this subject soon!

 



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