Discovering the magic of the Anjou wine region : a one-day road trip through Savennières, Coteaux du Layon and Coteaux de l’Aubance.
Located south of the city of Angers, Anjou is one of the most important wine-growing regions of the Loire Valley.Extending largely over the department of Maine-et-Loire, the Anjou vineyard boasts over twenty different appellations. The wine production area spreads over more than 150 villages.Our program today? An enchanting wine tasting loop to discover the winegrowers and “caves” of Savennières and the Layon and Aubance valleys.Ready for your (perfect) wine tasting near Angers, in the Anjou wine region?Follow the guide.
The Anjou wine region : rich of the diversity of 20+ appellations
The Anjou region has the widest range of wines in the Loire Valley, with wines produced from all grape varieties and in almost all styles.The region produces a significant share of rosé wines in volume. Almost a third of the total production. With two flagship appellations, Cabernet d’Anjou and Rosé d’Anjou. An atypical rosé wine, very aromatic, full and sweet, which differentiates it from other rosé wines that are generally more dry.In the past, red wines have represented a small percentage of Anjou wines. But in recent years the numbers have steadily increased. Partly because of the creation in the late 1980’s of the Anjou-Villages appellation (for red wines, that can only be made from cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc). The red wines of Anjou now represent, like the rosé wines, about a third of the total production.
Like the neighboring region of Saumur, the Anjou wine region also produces interesting champagne-style wines : 16% of the production of the region is sparkling wines (Crémant de Loire but also in the confidential appellation Anjou fines bulles).As you will have understood, the rest of the production is made of white wines . Yet it is that remaining fifth of the production that make the pride of the Anjou wine region.With five magical appellations of sweet wines : Coteaux de l’Aubance, Coteaux du Layon, but also the smaller – yet great – appellations of Bonnezeaux, Chaume and Quarts de Chaume. Last but not least, the region also boasts one of the most exclusive dry white wine appellations of the the Loire Valley : Savennières.
Departing from Angers, a first stopover in the Savennières vineyards
Start your journey in the village of Savennières, about 10 miles south-west of Angers. Most of the Anjou wine region’s vines grow south of the Loire. Savennières is the only notable exception, located on the right bank of the river. Savennières is also a pretty little village classified as a Petite Cité de Caractère (a French label for historical villages worth visiting), which is home to the oldest Roman church in Anjou. The village alone deserves a first stop for a wine tasting of Savennières whites.
Savennières is a small appellation.The Savennières vineyard covers approximately 150 hectares, including 33 hectares for Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines and 7 hectares for Coulée-de-Serrant (two smaller sub-appellations).Unlike Vouvray wines, where chenin blanc is grown mainly on clay-limestone soils, Savennières grapes are grown on schist rocks. This helps to give the wines of Savennières this very different character.The wines of Savennières are naturally full-bodied and, with age, acquire a unique character, with complex aromas of fruit and flowers, citrus or beeswax, all complemented by crisp acidity and lots of minerality. Savennières is one of the white wines that age well.The forty or so winegrowers from Savennières will make you taste white wines renowned for more than two thousand years. “ La Coulée de Serrant ” for some sommeliers, is one of the greatest white wines in the world, no less.
After the Corniche Angevine, more wine tasting in Coteaux du Layon
After Savennières, cross the river and take the direction of Rochefort-sur-Loire. Then down the road along the Corniche Angevine where the landscape is a mixture of countryside fields and charming villages.Stop just before arriving at La Haie Longue where, culminating at a hundred meters high, the ledge offers a breathtaking view of the Loire and the Louet valleys, with magnificent vines in the back-scenes.Then continue for a few miles more until you reach Chaudefonds-sur-Layon . Welcome to the land of Layon where two tributaries of the Loire river, the Layon (but also the Aubance), are at the center stage of the whole wine production of the Anjou region.From there, let yourself be taken by the beauty of the landscape. Follow the river which will take you to Beaulieu-sur-Layon , one of the six villages of the Coteaux du Layon appellation alongside Faye d’Anjou, Rablay-sur-Layon, Rochefort-sur-Layon, St-Aubin-de-Luigné and St-Lambert-du-Lattay.
A magnificent landscape, with vines planted on the hillsides of the river’s right bank, facing the southern sun and sheltered from the wind. Ideal conditions for the production of sweet white wines, whose chenin blanc grapes have been covered with noble rot (botrytis cinerea) resulting in dryed out berries and concentrated sugars.The Layon wines are rich in residual sugars, very close to Sauternes wines in many respects – except for the price…The Layon valley route will be the occasion of many wine tastings. Among the many possible cellars for your wine tasting in the Coteaux du Layon, we can name Domaine Gaudard, Domaine Patrick Baudouin, Domaine des forges, Domaine des Barres, Domaine du Petit Métris or Château de Bellevue.A special mention for Château Soucherie, which will offer not only a nice wine tasting experience – Anjou, Coteaux du Layon and Savennières wines – but also very nice guest rooms for an exclusive wine tasting getaway near Angers.
To finish our wine tasting tour in Anjou : the Aubance valley
From Beaulieu-sur-Layon, you will need to make a difficult choice: continue the Layon valley towards Thouarcé (home city of the Bonnezeaux appellation) … or quietly head north on to the Aubance valley vineyards.Well, we made the call for you : Coteaux de l’Aubance it will be! In this valley of the second tributary of the Loire river is also produced a very fine sweet white wine.Sorry Bonnezeaux, we’ll be back 🙂
The Aubance vineyards are the perfect place for a wine tasting in the cellars of winemakers such as Domaine de Montgilet, Domaine de Haute Perche or by continuing a little further east to Domaine de Bois Mozé.You can then feel free to stop at Blaison-Gohier, a charming village also classified as a Petite Cité de Caractère. Blaison-Gohier developed itself around a castle and a collegiale church from the 11th century. The village also offers the possibility of many hikes with breathtaking views of the Loire Valley.Before returning to Angers, do not spare the visit to Château de Brissac, the tallest castle in France, whose monumental facades dominate a large landscaped park. It is also possible to taste the wines of the Brissac estate in the beautiful stone vaults of the château’s wine cellar.
How about starting your own little wine tasting tour in Angers?
- First option : it would be a shame to come to Angers without also going to explore the neighboring Saumur wine region
- Second option : Go down to the cellar and fetch a bottle of Savennières (aperitif), one of Anjou Villages (meal) and one of Coteaux du Layon (dessert)?
List of Anjou wine region appellations
- Cabernet d’Anjou, rosé wines (2600 hectares)
- Anjou, white and red wines (2,500 hectares)
- Rosé d’Anjou (2,200 hectares)
- Coteaux du Layon, sweet white wines (1,700 hectares)
- Anjou villages, red wines (200 hectares)
- Coteaux de l’Aubance, sweet white wines (160 hectares)
- Savennières, mainly dry white wines (150 hectares)
- Bonnereaux, sweet white wines (120 hectares)
- Anjou villages Brissac, red wines (100 hectares)
- Chaume, sweet white wines (70 hectares)
- Quart-de-Chaume, sweet white wines (50 hectares)
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