Loire Valley Wine Holds Court

Less than two hours from Paris, France and about 200 miles long the Loire Valley is a massive winemaking region. The wines of France’s most diverse wine region are as different as they are delicious. In this video, our wine travels take us on an educational adventure into the Loire Valley’s Anjou – Saumur regions. It’s here where we will get to the bottom of Chenin Blanc and Loire Valley’s dry, sweet and sparkling wines that truly shine.

Alexandre Cady & Monique Soltani in the Loire Valley
Alexandre Cady & Monique Soltani in the Loire Valley

Chenin Blanc, also called Pineau de la Loire, made its way to the Loire Valley over a thousand years ago. If Chenin Blanc (just called Chenin in the Loire Valley) sounds familiar that’s because the wine grape is widely planted in the United States as well as in South Africa.

Thanks to its diversity Chenin Blanc has regularly been dubbed the French Riesling. The wine grape can be made in a range of styles from dry, off dry to sweet and of course sparkling. Chenin Blanc is the primary grape for many of the sparkling wines of the Loire Valley. Although other grapes may be added Chenin Blanc is typically the dominant grape. For the rosé, a variety of reds can be used but more often than not its Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, or Grolleau (pronounced GROW-LO).

Monique Soltani Loire Wine Oh TV interview
Monique Soltani Interviewing Francois-Regis De Fougeroux in Saumur Photo by: Deborah Grossman

Discovering the sweet and sparkling wines of France’s Royal wine region is more than a wine tasting journey. While learning about the wines of the Loire Valley we get a taste of “la douceur de vivre” along the way. Watching the video for the definition of what “la douceur de vivre” really mans will give you clearer picture than Google translate ever could.

Loire Valley Wine CastleIn this video, Wine Oh TV’s Monique Soltani shows us how Loire Valley’s fresh, affordable, and food friendly wines shine and often sparkling in France’s Royal Wine Region.

This is the second of a three part video series covering the Loire Valley Wine Region. In the first video, we learned about the history of the Loire Valley Wine Region and took a look inside one of the Loire Valley’s most famous castles. The Duke of Blacas showed us his digs and explained how his Chateau d’ Usse inspired the Sleeping Beauty fairytale and Walt Disney.

In the second video, we learn about the wines of Loire Valley’s Anjou and Saumur.

In the third and final video we will look closely at Vouvray and Chinon.


This important appellation dates its winegrowing influence back over 1,000 years. Today it is best known for its white, fruity rosé and red wines.

Location: This appellation covers 128 communes in Maine-et-Loire, 14 in Deux Sèvres, and 9 in Vienne. It also includes a number of subregional and communal AOC.

Surface Area:

  • Red: 3,459 acres (plus 791 acres of Anjou Gamay)
  • White: 900 2,224 acres
  • Anjou Pétillant/Anjou Mousseux Sparkling: 198 acres

Soil: The appellation comprises two distinct regions: “Anjou Noir” on dark schist soil on the southeast edge of the Massif Armoricain that covers the wides area. “Anjou Blanc,” with white limestone chalk soils, covers a much smaller area.

Loire Valley Wine AnjouClimate: Anjou has a temperate maritime climate that is mainly dry, with a narrow variation in temperature, known as the proverbial douceur angevine (Anjou sweetness).

Among the wines of Anjou, Savennières is noted for its dry Chenin blanc wines and the Coteaux du Layon for its sweet dessert wines that includes the botrytized wines of Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume.

Coteaux du Layon: These regions are dedicated exclusively to the production of sweet white wines. While delicious when released, they can age from five years to many decades.

Grape Varieties:

  • Red: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay
  • White: Chenin Blanc (80% minimum), Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay

Food Pairings

  • Pair red Anjou with stuffed mushrooms or peppers.
  • White Anjou is a wonderful partner for savory tarts and grilled fish.
  • Sparkling Anjou complements charcuterie and appetizers, as well as fruity desserts.


Saumur is the heart of the Loire wine business; most leading regional merchants have their offices in the area. Rich in the region’s famed tuffeau, this calcareous rock was quarried centuries ago, leaving perfect cellars for aging Saumur wines.

Location: This appellation encompasses twenty communes in Maine-et-Loire (28 for white Saumur), nine in Vienne, and two in Deux-Sèvre.

Surface Area:

  • Red: 2,471 acres
  • White: 2,100 acres
  • Soil: Vineyards are scattered over limestone slopes on Senonian and Eocene outcrops.

Loire Valley Wines SparklingClimate: Generally a temperate maritime climate. The Saumur hills buffer the west winds, giving the plots furthers from the Loire a continental influence.

Grape Varieties: 

  • Red: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis
  • White: Chenin Blanc (minimum 80%), Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay

Food Pairings

  • Try red Saumur with soft cheeses, stir fried chicken recipes, red lentil soup
  • White Saumur pairs well with cheeses include Comté, Cantal and Beaufort, as well as fish chowder, and soufflés

Thank you to Loire Valley Wines for sponsoring and organizing this trip and making it possible for me to share what I learned with all of you!

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