Wine from the Loire
The Nantes vineyards were planted by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. Their fame spread quickly: as early as the 1st century, Pliny the Elder wrote of the existence of vineyards on the banks of the Loire. But it was not until the 5th century that winegrowing in the Loire really began to take off.
The first mention of vineyards in Sancerre and Touraine was made by in 582 by Grégoire de Tours. The new vineyard around Château de Chalonnes was created as a result of a joint effort by the Count of Anjou and the Catholic authorities.
Over the centuries that followed, the influence of the Augustine and Benedictine monks was a major factor in the development of the different vineyards. The monks not only grew the vines, but knew how to make the best use of the many channels of communication available in the Pays Nantais. The Sèvre and Maine rivers and Goulaine marshlands gave excellent access to the Loire, complementing the existing Roman roads. The vineyards extended all the way along the river from the Fiefs Vendéens created in the 9th century to Saint-Pourçain in Auvergne.
At that time, travel along the roads was hazardous at best. Travelling along the Loire was a much safer option, promoting business and encouraging the development of vineyards on both sides of the water.
In 1709, severe winter weather struck the vineyards. Temperatures plummeted to -20°C, barrels exploded and the ocean froze all along the coastline. The Melon de Bourgogne grapes, however, bravely resisted the weather, as if thanking the region for its hospitality. The grapes were turned into a characterful wine known as Muscadet.
The French Revolution had a devastating effect on the Loire Valley vineyards -especially the area around Anjou and Nantes, the backdrop to the Wars of the Vendée.
to The development of new modes of transport, notably railways, brought the Loire vineyards into direct competitionwith wines from the south. They continued, however, to produce high quality wines – until they were stopped in their tracks by the phylloxera crisis. This grapevine pest, originally from America, attacked the roots of the vines and succeeded in destroying a major proportion of the vineyards.
Once the crisis was over, quality became a major focus, leading the creation of some of the most famous appellation. These were officially recognised in 1936 as Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée.
And finally, in 2000, the Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes-sur-Loire was classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Noted for the quality of its architectural heritage, with historic towns and world-famous Châteaux, the Loire Valley is recognised as a site of special cultural interest. It has been a meeting point for an array of human values, and is testament to the development of a natural synergy between man and his environment across two thousand years of history in the loire wines.