The region produces a high proportion of Rose wine, called Rose d’Anjou, or Cabernet d’Anjou, and is one of the 2 largest pink wine producing regions in France. Rose d’Anjou covers a broad area, stretching from the Atlantic coast to Saumur. Rose d’Anjou was at the height of its popularity in the 1980s, but it’s reputation suffered – a medium sweet rose, made predominantly from the local grape Grolleau Noir, which is also declining in terms of its plantings in the region. Cabernet D’Anjou is the drier, higher quality option, produced from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – fuller, and more serious, than Rose d’Anjou. There is also a broader category, called Rose de Loire, which can be made in Anjou/Saumur and also Touraine area, normally drier, and produced from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and other local varieties, including Grolleau Noir.
Style: rose pink, very fruity wines, ranging from sweet, sometimes confected, strawberry and boiled sweet- flavoured, to dry and off dry, lively, juicy rose wines, with soft, refreshing red berry fruit flavours.
Grapes: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grolleau Noir
Good with – the sweeter styles work well with fruit based desserts, and somewhat surprisingly anything spicy – prawns stir fried with chilli, and mild Korma curries. The drier Cabernet d’Anjou style is great with tuna nicoise, poached chicken, and baked salmon.
The Chenin Blanc grape is king in this part of the Loire, known locally as Pineau de la Loire, producing dry, medium and sweet whites, including some of the world’s greatest dessert wines. Anjou Blanc is the broadest category, producing dry to medium dry wines, made from the Chenin Blanc grape. It also produces high quality sparkling wines, with a small proportion of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Style: soft, off dry whites, with aromas of quinces and baked apples, and pretty similar flavours. Gentle, fruity wines, with the character of ripe, orchard fruits.
Grapes: Chenin Blanc
Good with – Anjou and, generally, Chenin Blanc wines, are great with fruity dishes, such as Middle Eastern couscous and tagines. They work superbly with roast pork, with apple sauce, and chicken cooked in cream and cider.
Anjou Rouge & Anjou Villages
Anjou Rouge and Anjou Villages covers red wines from the area, the latter from a smaller, strictly defined part of the region; the wines are made from the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes, and are ripe, fruit forward and nervy in style.
Style: soft, gentle, ruby coloured reds, with raspberry leaf fragrance, relatively low tannins, and a ripe, red berry and spice character.
Grapes: produced from the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes
Good with: these soft reds are perfect served slightly chilled, with pate and charcuterie; great with gammon and chicken and bacon pie; and also work nicely with soft, creamy cheeses.
Sweet Anjou Wines
To the south of the town of Angers, are the specific areas, which produce outstanding medium sweet wines. This is due to the microclimate and topography of the region, where 2 tributaries of the Loire, the Layon and the Aubance rivers have carved deep gorges over the years; the steep valleys and shelter from winds, together with ideal sunshine facing sites, which also attract the fog at the beginning and end of the days, provide the ideal locations for the Chenin Blanc to ripen fully and develop noble rot.
Coteaux du Layon is the largest of these areas, with the smaller and renowned sub- districts of Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux, lying within this overall appellation. Made uniquely from the Chenin Blanc grape, and labelled ‘selection de grains nobles’ (selection of noble grapes), the wines are made from grapes that are left to ripen fully on the vine, increase in intensity of sugars and develop noble rot, before being picked, individually, by hand, when they are ready. Quarts de Chaume is a small, 100 acre area within this, where some of the most superb sweet Chenins Blancs are produced, whilst Bonnezeaux, lying to the south, and slightly smaller, produces wines of a similar style and in a similar vein.
To the north Coteaux de l’Aubance, produce very similar wines, but are less well established.
Style: - sweet, elegant, yet fresh and citrussy white wines; they have opulent aromas and flavours of quince, raisins and dried apricots, yet a vibrant, refreshing freshness, due to the incredible acidity levels of the Chenin Blanc grape.
Grapes: - Chenin Blanc
Good with: - perfect with a bowl of strawberries, and fruit based desserts, these wines will also work with foie gras, and blue cheeses.
One of the best known appellations within the Anjou region is Savennieres, Lying just south west of Angers, it is a small area, which produces some of the most distinctive and fascinating dry whites of the entire Loire, from the Chenin grape – dry, intense in flavours and with very high natural acidity, which makes them excellent wines for keeping, and the complex character develops over the years.
Savennieres use to produce sweet or medium dry wines, but now focussing on these unique dry wines, the only ones in the area – the very top 2 wines come from the very small, specified vineyard areas of La Roche aux Moines and Coulee du Serrant.
Style: - cutting edge dry whites, very elegant and complex in style – ripe, bruised apple and yellow plum fruit, very aromatic, with full on flavours, but a searingly dry finish.
Grapes: - Chenin Blanc
Good with: - fantastic wines to go with chicken, pork or veal, especially if cooked in creamy sauces, as the acidity cuts through the richness of the cream. These wines are also superb with oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel.
The area surrounding the town of Saumur, is where the majority of the red wine of the region is made. All the red wine is made from a blend of the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, with some Pineau d’Aunis, producing wines that are generally light and fruity in style, but in good years, mature well and can develop into complex, more long-lived wines. The smaller area of Saumur –Champigny produces high quality wines, which are best drunk young – fresh, fruity and full of red- fruit juiciness.
Style: - juicy, fruity, lightish reds, bursting with soft berry fruit aromas; these are attractive easy drinking reds, with low tannins and gentle, raspberry fruit flavours.
Grapes: - Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon
Good with: - : these soft reds are perfect served slightly chilled, with meat terrines, duck rillettes and charcuterie; great with gammon and chicken and bacon pie; and also work nicely with soft, creamy cheeses
Within the delimited area of Saumur, there are several specified areas, the best known of these being Chinon, Bourgueil, and St-Nicolas de Bourgeuil, small appelations, which all produce raspberry-leaf scented, enticing, low tannin, youthful reds.
Sparkling Saumur Wines
Saumur produces a large proportion of the Loire’s sparkling wines, made in the traditional champagne method, but using the Chenin Blanc grape, with a production of over 12 million bottles a year. As well as red and sparkling the area also produces white, again, from the Chenin Blanc, not dissimilar to the Anjou styles, and some Rose.
Style: - crisp, zesty sparkling wines, with ripe orchard fruit freshness, a soft, rounded biscuit edge, and a lively, vibrant finish.
Grapes: - Chenin Blanc
Good with: - chilled, the perfect aperitif, or with their naturally high acidity these sparklers are great with oysters, and simply prepared shellfish.