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Terra Vitis in the Loire:
sustainable wines from the Pays Nantais to the Côte Roannaise

The Loire wine region stretches from the Atlantic to central France and is made up of a mosaic of winegrowing areas with varying climatic and geological conditions, giving rise to distinctive terroirs and a vast array of wines. Red, white, rosé, dry, sweet or sparkling, the incredible diversity of Loire Valley wines will appeal to wine enthusiasts, novice or experienced. Discover the nuances of Loire wines with Terra Vitis grape farmers and winegrowers. 

3 things to know about Loire wines

3 choses à savoir

The vineyards around Nantes almost disappeared forever in the winter of 1709 when the cold was so intense that the shores of the ocean froze over. To rebuild this winegrowing area, the main grape variety planted was Melon de Bourgogne, a variety originally from Burgundy, from which the famous Muscadet is made.

3 choses à savoir

Muscadet and Gros-Plant-du-Pays-Nantais wines are made with lees ageing, a winemaking method that involves leaving the wine to rest in contact with its lees (spent yeast cells) for an entire winter before bottling.

3 choses à savoir

Known for its dry white wines, AOC Quincy is the oldest appellation d’origine contrôlée in the Loire, dating back to 1936.

Pays Nantais, land of Muscadet

Mainly known for Muscadet, the Pays Nantais winegrowing region also produces red and rosé wines – be sure to try them if you can.

Muscadet, muscadet or muscadet?

In the world of wine, the term “muscadet” can mean several things:

  • Several appellations include the name: AOC Muscadet is the regional appellation, and there are also AOC “villages”, including Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine and Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu.
  • The Melon de Bourgogne grape variety that Muscadet is made from is often called the Muscadet variety.
  • The geographical area of the winegrowing region in which the different Muscadets are produced is called Muscadet.

Straddling the departments of Loire-Atlantique, Vendée and Maine-et-Loire, the vineyards of the Nantes region thrive in the mild, wet oceanic climate, although spring frosts are common. The region sits on an extension of the Armorican Massif, characterised by the presence of volcanic and metamorphic rocks: granite, schist, mica schist, etc.

The main grape variety grown in the Pays Nantais is Melon de Bourgogne (or Muscadet), which originated in Burgundy and is now used to produce Muscadet.

The region’s other dry white wines are made from Gros Plant (also known as Folle Blanche). Pinot Gris, which is more common around the village of Ancenis, is used to make a sweet white wine. As for red and rosé wines, Gamay reigns supreme on the hillsides around Ancenis.

The Pays Nantais is most notably the land of Muscadet, but it has more than this to offer.

Lovers of dry white wines who appreciate the fresh citrus acidity of Muscadet will certainly be won over by the lively, lemony notes of Gros-Plant-du-Pays-Nantais wines.

Those who prefer sweet wines should try the white wines from Coteaux d’Ancenis. The same appellation produces fruity, generous red wines with spicy notes and fresh rosés with a hint of sweetness.


The Anjou-Saumur winegrowing region is a goldmine for wine lovers who will find much to enjoy among the region’s many wines. From light reds to dry rosés, sparkling wines and sweet whites, every style of wine is made in an array of appellations.

vignes région loire

The Anjou-Saumur vineyards stretch along the Loire River and its tributaries, between the towns of Ancenis and Saumur. The climate is generally oceanic, but is subject to significant local variations, and these microclimates, the wide variability of soils and different sun exposure make the wines of different vineyards distinct.

Geologically, there are two main zones:

  • Anjou noir (black Anjou), with dark-coloured soils and subsoils similar to those of the Armorican Massif , composed of schist and metamorphic rocks
  • Anjou blanc (white Anjou), part of the Paris Basin (from a geological point of view) and composed of light-coloured sedimentary rocks such as limestone and tufa


Between the two, the vineyards grow in limestone clay, sandy or gravel soils. These varied climatic and geological conditions help the region’s grape farmers and winegrowers to produce wines with highly distinctive flavour profiles.

Red and rosé wines in Anjou and in Saumurois are made from the following grape varieties:

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Grolleau
  • Pineau d’Aunis
  • Gamay


White wines are principally made with Chenin Blanc, the region’s star variety, sometimes blended with:

  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chardonnay
  • Fié Gris (also called Sauvignon Gris)


Sparkling Crémant de Loire wines are made with Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc or Orbois, and sparkling rosés from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grolleau, Pineau d’Aunis and Pinot Noir.

Thanks to the extent of the Anjou-Saumur vineyards and their great variability in climate and geology, a very wide range of wines is produced here including reds, rosés and whites, as well as sparkling wines made using the traditional method (second fermentation in the bottle). The red wines of Anjou-Saumur are light and fresh. The most reputed are those from Saumur (AOC Saumur and AOC Saumur-Champigny in particular), which are supple but expressive.

Rosé wines are well represented in the Loire Valley, particularly in Anjou, where dry, semi-dry and even sweet rosés are produced, such as the praised Cabernet d’Anjou.

The white wines are not to be outdone: dry, semi-dry, sweet or sparkling, there is an Anjou or Saumur to satisfy the palates of all white wine lovers. 

Anjou-Saumur sparkling wines, white and rosé, include Crémant de Loire and AOC Saumur pétillant or mousseux. With their fine bubbles, freshness and elegance, they add a certain sparkle to any celebration.


The Touraine winegrowing region stretches around the city of Tours, along the main tributaries of the Loire, all the way to Orléans. There are many different appellations that produce a wide range of wines, including whites, rosés, reds and sparkling. 

vignes région loire

The vineyards of Touraine benefit from a temperate climate with several influences (oceanic and continental, as well as influences of the Loire River and its tributaries). This leads to annual variability in the climate, which explains the importance of vintages in the region – harvests can vary considerably from year to year.

The geology of the region is relatively uniform, largely dominated by chalky subsoils and flinty sands and clays typical of the Paris Basin.

White wines in Touraine are largely made with Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. Red and rosé wines are principally made from Côt (also known as Malbec), Gamay and Cabernet Franc. In lesser amounts, the following grape varieties can also be found:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Pineau d’Aunis
  • Grolleau
  • Chardonnay
  • Arbois

Touraine offers a wonderful range of wines, from supple, light reds to full-bodied, tannic reds, and rosés and whites from dry to sweet. The vintage plays a key role in the flavour profile and sugar content. Sparkling wines are also made, including the famous Vouvray and Montlouis-sur-Loire, as well as Crémant de Loire.

Red wine enthusiasts are spoiled for choice in Touraine. There are round and fruity reds, such as those from Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, reds with a more delicate bouquet, such as those from Chinon, and expressive reds with lots of personality from Touraine Chenonceaux.

Touraine rosés have a pleasant freshness, with supple, subtle or silky notes, depending on the specific terroir.

The region is also renowned for its white wines, which can be dry, semi-dry or sweet, depending on the year, particularly the wines of Vouvray, Montlouis-sur-Loire and Jasnières.

Several appellations produce sparkling wines, including Vouvray and Montlouis-sur-Loire (highly appreciated for their finesse and elegance) as well as Crémant de Loire.

Centre Loire, home of Sancerre and Pouilly

Covering almost 6,000 hectares along the Loire in the Cher valley, the Centre Loire wine region produces some of the most famous wines in France and beyond: Sancerre, Pouilly-sur-Loire, Pouilly Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Reuilly – names that make the hearts of wine connoisseurs around the world beat faster.

vignes région loire

The Centre Loire winegrowing region extends from Orléans and the surrounding area to the foothills of the Massif Central, mainly along the Loire and Cher rivers. Within this relatively large area, a distinction is generally made between the Orléans vineyards and those of Centre Loire, the latter including the Côteaux du Giennois, Pouilly-sur-Loire and Pouilly Fumé, Sancerre, Quincy, etc., with Châteaumeillant further south.


The climate here is semi-continental, with some oceanic influences in places and generally mild temperatures, with little risk of frost. Geologically, the region is divided between calcareous soils (containing calcium), stony soils and siliceous soils.

The Centre Loire is dominated by Sauvignon Blanc, which accounts for over 80% of the region’s wine production. This grape variety is particularly sensitive to variations in climate and geology, and expresses different flavour profiles depending on the terroir in which it is grown.

Alongside Sauvignon Blanc is the more occasional Chardonnay, and Chasselas, which is used exclusively to make Pouilly-sur-Loire wines.

Red and rosé wines from Centre Loire are made mainly from Pinot Noir, sometimes blended with Gamay.

With its range of excellent red, white and rosé wines, the Centre Loire region has something to please every palate.

For those who prefer reds, the Pinot Noirs are supple and light, particularly from Sancerre, Reuilly and Menetou-Salon where this grape variety is used exclusively. The reds from Coteaux du Giennois and Châteaumeillant are Pinot Noir blended with Gamay, resulting in a fuller-bodied wine with a pleasantly fruity flavour profile.

The region’s rosé wines are renowned for their rich range of aromas, from floral to slightly peppery, depending on their terroir of origin. Try the rosés of Coteaux du Giennois, Menetou-Salon and Reuilly, and see what you think.

There are also some excellent dry white wines – the delightful, fruity Pouilly Fumé and the lively, light Pouilly-sur-Loire are examples. The whites of Reuilly, Menetou-Salon and Coteaux du Giennois equally deserve to be tasted.

vignes région loire

Côte Roannaise, land of Gamay

Located near the source of the Loire, near Lyon and Burgundy, the Côte Roannaise winegrowing region covers just over 200 hectares around the town of Roanne. Grapevines thrive here in the mild climate, spread over well-exposed hillsides of sandy, well-drained soils of microgranite and tuff.

These meteorological and geological conditions are particularly well suited to the Gamay grape variety, which dominates the region’s vineyards and produces robust red wines that become even more powerful with longer vatting periods.

Côte Roannaise white wines are rarer, and made from Chardonnay or Viognier. There are even fewer rosés, but they are worth seeking out for their lively, fresh, fruity bouquet.

Wine tourism in the Loire Valley

Starting near the Atlantic in Nantes to Sancerre south of Paris – and even as far as Roanne for those who have the time – the Loire Valley wine route is the longest in France. Aside from its world-class wines, it takes in the chateaux of the Loire, charming villages, royal abbeys and verdant natural landscapes.

There are a huge range of activities in the Loire Valley: wine tastings, food and drink tours that pair regional cuisine with local wines, boat trips, cycling, walking, troglodyte cave and wine cellar visits, chateaux tours and stays, and more. There’s something for everyone…

région loire vignes
région loire vignes

Terra Vitis members in the Loire Valley

Founded in 2000, the Terra Vitis Loire regional branch unites over 100 grape farmers and winegrowers who are working together to rethink their practices and be more sustainable, while respecting the terroirs and traditions of Loire wines. Discover the diversity of Loire wines with Terra Vitis-certified winegrowers.

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Further information

Official website of Loire Valley wines 

Official website of Centre Loire wines 

Official website of Côte Roannaise wines 

Discover the other Terra Vitis regions

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