The 7 appellations of the Saumur vineyard
Let’s start with the Saumur AOC appellations.
This one comes in three colors (and sub-appellations):
- red Saumur wines
- white Saumur wines
- rosé wines of Saumur
The red Saumur wines are mainly made from Cabernet Franc (locally known as the “Breton” grape) with, in smaller proportions, Cabernet Sauvignon or Pineau d’Aunis. The best wines of the appellation are said to come from the communes of Montreuil-Bellay, Tourtenay and Puy-Notre-Dame. The latter village even has a dedicated eponymous AOC since 2008 : around sixty hectares of vineyards producing a more powerful and full-bodied Saumur red wine. It is also a charming village , surrounded by medieval ramparts, which deserves a stop for a visit loaded with history.
Let’s continue with the sparkling Saumur wines. We could have started here. Because like the Vouvray vineyard, Saumur is widely recognized as a land of sparkling wines. The vineyards planted on limestone soils give the grapes the crisp acidity they need to produce exceptional sparkling wines. Under the vines are miles of tunnels and troglodyte caves carved out in the limestone: the perfect place for the storage and aging of the bottles.
Finally, let’s finish with the AOC Coteaux de Saumur, which covers only 15 hectares of vines (but more than twenty villages). It’s a confidential production of sweet white wines from Chenin Blanc grapes. These wines are the Saumur cousins of the Coteaux du Layon, the famous sweet wines produced a few miles further west, south of the city of Angers.
Wine tasting in Saumur : the castle is a great starting point
Even if you have never been to Saumur, there is a good chance that you have already seen a photograph of its turreted castle, carved in limestone and tufa, the emblematic rock of the Loire Valley. Its majestic silhouette overlooking the river has been widely used to illustrate this touristic landmark of the Saumur region.
And we can easily understand why: its fairytale white towers, its delicate stone interlacing and its mullioned windows make it an architectural gem.
The castle is far from being the only reason to visit Saumur : there is also the possibility of a wine tasting tour of the great sparkling wineries, located on the outskirts of the city. A perfect apéritif before heading to one of the many restaurants of the medieval center of Saumur city.
Most of these sparkling Saumur wineries are located in the suburbs of St-Hilaire-St-Florent, just a few miles from the city center. Unless you are a good walker (follow the Thouet, a small stream that flows into the Loire at… Saint-Hilaire precisely), you will need a car or a taxi to get there.
The wine tasting experience offered by the big name wineries of Saumur will teach you how wine is made and ends with the possibility of buying few bottles.
But keep a little space in your car trunk, because the Saumur vineyard is big, and our wine tour has only started!
Visiting the Saumur vineyards : vines, villages and bell towers
Here, only the production of red wine is allowed. Thanks to the limestone soil of the region, the expression of Cabernet Franc is really elegant with note of flower and chalky minerals.
A little further south, villages like Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg and Brézé are also home to very beautiful vineyards cultivated by a talented new generation of winegrowers like Romain Guiberteau and Arnaud Lambert .
Some people compare this terroir to the famous one of Burgundy! But Burgundy wines at this price a bottle? Na, you won’t find it anywhere else than in Saumur!
Further south, pulling east, there are other very beautiful wineries that you can visit in the new appellation of Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame.
This appellation is also the home to a new gen of young winegrowers who have learned their trade and sharpened their skills in this extraordinary terroir. They were able to grow their vines on fascinating soils such as falun, a sandy deposit dotted with fossilized shells.
Minimalist producers like the Domaine Mélaric or the Domaine de l’Enchantoir have taken up residence In Puy-Notre-Dame, adding to the growing reputation of Saumur wines.
What about a wine tasting trip in Saumur?
So what’s next?
- First option: it would be a shame to come to Saumur without also exploring the two neighboring appellations, Bourgueil and Chinon
- Second option: Go down to the cellar and grab a bottle of Saumur wine?
If you want to prepare a wine tasting errand in Saumur, we have developed all the tools to make your wine tour in Saumur a success.
Welcome to the Saumur vineyards : we hope this post will help you organize a 100% perfect wine tasting experience in France. Enjoy.