#Terroirist Tuesday: Upper Loire Valley

Image: Pouilly-Fumé – parisbistro.com

Well, in the last two installments of Terroirist Tuesday, we’ve traipsed through the Lower and Middle Loire. Welcome to the northernmost (and smallest) of the Loire Valley wine regions –  the Upper Loire Valley. The area boasts some notable wines, namely Sancerre’s stealthy reds, Pouilly-Fumé’s explosive Sauvignon Blanc. It also kicks some serious caillotes in the rosé department.

That’s right – the Loire Valley isn’t just a pretty face, as in UNESCO World Heritage Sight  (Le Jardin de la France, ‘France’s Garden’.) No, it’s smart, and versatile, too. This region chews gum AND walks a mean pace. Hankering for some sur-lie Muscadet or Folle Blanche whites? Check. (Lower Loire.)  On the prowl for some ‘let-me-show-you-how-it’s done’ Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc or sparkling sippers? Check (Middle Loire.) Twitching for some sparky Sauvignon Blancs or wait-we’re-not-in-Burgundy-anymore  Pinots? Check and check (Upper Loire.) Oh, and just because they can – how about some  savor-worthy, under-the-radar Gamays and rosés? Yeah, that’s right  – Loire Valley doesn’t just win on looks, so you had best know what you’re about when you come a’courtin. Santé!

Quick Upper Loire Facts:

Location:  150 south of Paris and 70 miles east of Burgundy.

Climate: Continental, featuring the Loire Valley’s largest diurnal and seasonal temperature variations.

Soils: (3) different soil types atop a Kimmeridgean limestone base:

  • Terres Blanches (oyster fossils)
  • Caillottes (limestone pebbles)
  • Silex (flint)
Image: paulmarcus.com


  • Sauvignon Blanc: Smokey, gunflint profile.
  • Chasselas: Primary regional white grape prior to phylloxera – bright, citrus, floral perfume.
  • Chardonnay: In white blends of Saint-Pourçain and 100%  Côtes d’Auvergne VDQS white.
  •  Sacy (locally known as Tressallier): In white blends of Saint-Pourçain.
  • Pinot Noir: Only red grape of Sancerre.
  • Pinot Gris: Blended with Pinot Noir in Reuilly reds and rosés and Chateaumeillant VDQS.
  • Gamay: Blended with Pinot Noir in Coteaux du Giennois and Chateaumeillant VDQS.

Upper Loire AOC’s 

  • Sancerre
  • Pouilly-Fumé
  • Pouilly-Sur-Loire
  • Menetou-Salon
  • Reuilly
  • Quincy
  • Coteaux du Giennois
  • Saint Pourçain
  • Côte Roannaise
  • Châteaumeillant

Upper Loire VDQS’s:

VDQS stands for Vin Delimite de Qualité Supérieure – the French interim level ranking for wines awaiting AOC status. (i.e., Wine Pergatory) This often translates into quality wines at value prices.

  • Côtes d’Auvergne VDQS: 100% Chardonnay whites and Gamay/Pinot Noir reds and rosés.
Image: getintravel.com


Copyrighted 2012. All Rights Reserved.

??Last Week’s Quiz Answers??:

1. The two major grape varietals of the Loire Loire are: Muscadet and Folle Blanche.

2. Bonus Question: Melon de Bourgogne is also known as: Muscadet.

Have a question or comment about Terroir Tuesday? Leave in the comment section below – cheers!

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