Visiting The Loire's Wineries
Savennières & Saumur

This should not be considered a definitive list of wineries in the Loire Valley, but merely as a starting point.  Most wine travelers will proclaim the local "mom-and-pop" operation they discovered in the middle of nowhere as their best wine experience. Always be open to trying a new wine, as flavors and styles vary from vintage to vintage, village to village, and winemaker to winemaker.  The comments on the wines that we have provided should therefore be taken with a grain of salt.

Saumur

Savennières

Savennières

Located just west of Angers on the north bank of the Loire, Savennieres is one of the most esteemed appellations in the Loire Valley, with their wines being served to the likes of Louis XIV (the Sun King) and Napoleon.  One of the smallest appellations, it only has 75 hectares under vine, most of which produce Chenin Blanc that are made into a very dry style.  The quality of Savennieres, though, is extremely high resulting in prices set at a premium.  The wines tend to be extremely fragrant, with soft fruit and a hint of spice.  Savennieres with aging potential reveal more honey as time goes by and even become sweeter.

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A family-owned firm, their wines include Clos du Papollon, an excellent example of what Chenin Blanc can do in Savennieres.




Run by the Soulez family, this estate makes wines from across the Loire Valley.  They make their Savennieres differently than most others, picking by hand, fermenting in a tank instead of in wood.  The results are some of the best in the region.

Nicholas Joly's Coulée de Serrant is one of the best produced in Savennieres.  These wines not only need aging, but also sometimes require it.

Saumur

There are actually three different appellations surrounding the town of Saumur: Saumur, Saumur-Champigny, and Saumur Mousseux.  One of the most important wines from this region is a sparking wine made in Saumur Mousseux from Chenin Blanc (although increasing amounts of Chardonnay are being used).  A good destination for red wine lovers, Saumur Rouge tends to have more success than the Blanc does, as the soil is similar to those in Chinon and Bourgueil and it produces a refreshing, light fruity wine.  These wines are usually made from Cabernet France, with the best coming from Saumur-Champigny.  Although Saumur does make some rosé, they tend to be drier with less panache than you generally find in surrounding areas.  One interesting aspect of Saumur is that quarrying over the past centuries has left Saumur with extensive caves that work for cellaring their wines and can frequently be visited.

Brézé (50 miles WSW of Tours)

Makes an impressive range of wines of solid quality.  Worth the trip to visit the château, though.

Chaintres

Housed in a beautiful 16th century building, they primarily produce red wines.  These wines tend to be a bit heavier than other reds in the area, requiring more aging.

The largest producer of Saumur-Champigny, they make a variety of styles that cover the spectrum. 


Dampierre-sur-Loire (45 miles WSW of Tours)

Parnay (43 miles WSW of Tours)

Web: www.domaine-hureau.fr

One of the best estates in the Saumur region, Philippe Vatan makes one of the best wines in Saumur-Champigny as well as an impressive Saumur Blanc.  He also produces a luscious Saumur Moelleux.

Owned by Edouard Pisani-Ferry's family for over 300 years, Château de Targé has one of the best, most aromatic Saumur-Champigny mostly Cabernet Franc with a little Cabernet Sauvignon blended in and ages well.


Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent (52 miles W of Tours)

The first and probably the best producer of Saumur Brut, they have been making it since 1811.  Today, they make a full range of sparkling wines (try the Cuvée Privée and the Cuvée Jean-Baptiste).

Owned by Taittinger Champagne, this house's range includes two top Cuvées (Saphir and Trésor).  They blend Chardonnay into many of their wines.


Owned by Champagne Bollinger, they produce a number of still wines and Crémants, but no sparkling Saumur.  This was purposely done because they didn't want to be restricted with the AOC rules fort sparkling Saumur. 

Saumur (53 miles W of Tours)

Web: www.gratienmeyer.com

One of the largest producers of sparkling Saumur, their top cuvée is the Cuvée Flamme (made in both rosé and white styles). 

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