The defining feature of the Loire Valley, not surprisingly, is the Loire River. The longest river in France, spanning more than 600 miles, it connects seemingly disparate wine regions. Why else would Sancerre, with its Kimmeridgian limestone terroir and continental climate, be connected to Muscadet, an appellation that is 250 miles away on the Atlantic coast?
The river plays a crucial role in moderating temperatures, allowing viticulture to thrive in this cool, northerly climate. Correspondingly, its wines share a common thread of fresh acidity, but in every other way, diversity abounds in the Loire Valley. The aforementioned Kimmderidgian limestone of Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire, also found in Chablis, puts a unique mark on Sauvignon Blanc that differentiates it from other examples produced worldwide. Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur boast the presence of tuffeau, a type of yellowish, chalky limestone unique to the Loire. Savennières has schist, while the Muscadet zone has volcanic, granitic, and serpentinite-based soils. In addition to its geologic diversity, many grape varieties are grown here: Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne are most prevalent, but others including Pinot Gris, Grolleau, Pinot Noir, Pineau d’Aunis, Côt, Gamay, and Folle Blanche also thrive. This myriad of viticultural influences leads to the production of high-quality wines in all styles: white, red, rosé, sparkling, and dessert.
Some of Kermit’s first imports came from the Loire, most notably the wines of Charles Joguet and Château d’Epiré—producers he featured in his book Adventures on the Wine Route and with whom we still work today. The region's rural charm and the down-home hospitality of its people—without forgetting its traditional rustic cuisine—drew him back consistently, and we now count seventeen fine growers in our portfolio. Discover them here, and enjoy your adventure in the Jardin de la France.