Chinon AOC
Region : Touraine

Chinon: the largest AOC of red wines in the Loire Valley which also produces great (and rare) white wines.

The Chinon AOC mainly produces red wines, a little bit of rosé… and a very small part of white wines, but often of very high quality. The appellation was created in 1937, and regroups today more than 250 wineries spread over a vineyard of 2,300 hectares.

The Chinon appellation has a very specific topography: it is located on the last folds of the Auvergne mountains … famous for their “puys”. Well, the AOC Chinon also has its own “puys”, that is to say “small hills”, on which the vines find a fantastic playground when it comes to producing great wines! What also makes the specificity of the Chinon wine region, is its dry micro-climate and the soil made of limestone rocks (“millarges” in French) that are particularly adapted to the cultivation of vines. Another notable point of the Chinon vineyard: the proximity of the vines and the dwellings which have pushed the AOC winegrowers to turn to organic farming at an early stage. Indeed, phytosanitary treatments and private homes rarely make good neighbors!

Domaine de Noiré Chinon Indre-et-Loire

Chinon : The appellation

Located in the Indre-et-Loire department, the Chinon AOC appellation extends over the north and south banks of the Vienne (and partly on the south bank of the Loire). It is located 45 kilometers southwest of the city of Tours and about 30 kilometers east of Saumur. Until 2016, the AOC Chinon deployed its vineyard in 18 villages. 8 additional ones have since been included, all located to the west of Chinon, at the confluence of the Vienne and the Loire rivers. There are now 26 villages which are authorized to produce Chinon wines in the AOC (or AOP, French acronyms that refer to the “Denomination of Origin”). Among the latest arrivals, the village of Seuilly, which hosts birthplace of François Rabelais at “La Devinière”. Quite a symbol that Chinon wine can now be produced on the land of Gargantua’s creator! These 26 villages regroup 250 Chinon wine producers whose vineyards cover just over 2,500 hectares. The Chinon AOC is surrounded by other renowned Touraine appellations: Bourgueil, on the other side of the Loire, Saumur further west, or even the more recent and more confidential AOC of Azay-le-Rideau.

Chinon : The wines

Red wines
Rosé wines
Dry white wines

As it is commonplace in the Loire Valley, the red wines of Chinon are produced from Cabernet Franc. This grape variety gives them structure and typical fruity and floral aromas, ranging from strawberry, raspberry and redcurrant to shades of violet or cloves. Of course, the terroir where the vines grow will bring subtleties to this general pattern. The hillside wines, just like in Bourgueil, will produce straighter and more mineral wines. whereas the wines near the river will be lighter and rounder in the mouth.

Beyond the red wines, the AOC provides interesting rosé wines with gourmet notes of small red fruits and rose. And as already mentioned, Chinon also produces superb white wines, made only from the Chenin Blanc grape variety. The white wines are (very) rare, only a few dozen winegrowers produce them in the appellation … and account for less than 2% of Chinon volumes.

To properly match a red Chinon with your meal, you must first understand what type of Chinon you are dealing with. For lighter wines (those from gravel soils), they will be perfect on an aperitif platter of rillons, pâtés, rillettes (from Tours) and other pork charcuteries. For more full-bodied red Chinons (Chinons from the “puys”), any piece of quality red meat  will do the trick! If you are lucky enough to have white Chinon bottles in your cellar, then you cannot go wrong by associating it with the sea flavors of white fish or shellfish. You could also get off the beaten track by marrying these with beautiful goat cheeses (Loire Valley Valençay or Pouligny-Saint-Pierre), or even a Brie de Meaux (admittedly, less local).

Grape varieties used for Chinon wines

The main grape variety of the Chinon AOC is Cabernet Franc (aka Breton). Cabernet Sauvignon can be used as an accessory grape variety. The white wines are vinified in 100% Chenin Blanc (aka Pineau de Loire).
Grappe de Cépage Cabernet Frand
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Cabernet Franc

Grappe de Chenin Blanc de Loire
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Chenin Blanc

Chinon : The wineries

The Chinon appellation comrpises around 250 wineries and estates. After your tasting, you can head to visit the famous castle of Azay-le-Rideau and also its charming stopover village. Going in the opposite direction, you can visit Fontevraud Abbey, the entry point to the Saumur vineyards. Well if you are still thirsty, lots to do in that country too!


Loire Valley wines

Invite Chinon in your cellar !

Our selection of Loire Valley wines: flagship wineries but also great wines to be discovered from a new generation of passionate winemakers.

Divine Loire wine bottle with smile
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