The Nantes wine-growing region isn’t the most well-known in France, but it boasts some fabulous local wines from dedicated winemakers. Today I’m going to walk you through Nantes’ vineyards, an area that is becoming increasingly recognised and is full of surprises.
The Nantes wine region
Nantes’ wine country is part of the bigger Loire Valley wine-making region. Its vineyards span some 10,000 hectares on either side of the river, making it one of France’s largest wine-growing regions in terms of the area cultivated.
Most of the vineyards sit on the southern side of the Loire, between Nantes and the estuary. This is where the Muscadet and Gros Plant grapes are grown. There’s another wine-growing region near Ancenis, a small town about 40 minutes’ drive from Nantes. This is the home of the Coteaux d’Ancenis and Coteaux de la Loire terroirs.
The region mostly produces dry white wines. The most well-known is Muscadet. It’s the perfect pairing with shellfish, fish and cheese. Traditionally, it’s consumed with oysters, but chefs and wine-lovers alike are increasingly pairing it with poultry and fish dishes. This is especially true when Muscadet is produced “sur lie,” meaning that it spends several months ageing on the yeast and is only filtered when it is bottled. This traditional method gives the Muscadet more depth and more fruity aromas.
If you’re looking for local red and rosé wines, it’s worth exploring Coteaux d’Ancenis wines. They’re less well known but just as interesting. I’m going to let you into a little secret: near Ancenis they produce a white wine called Malvoisie. It’s less dry than Muscadet and Gros Plant, and makes the perfect aperitif.
Where and how can you sample Nantes’ wines?
Although locals haven’t always been so fond of their local wines, that’s no longer the case and nowadays you only have to wander the streets of Nantes to come across a local wine. Before going into a restaurant, see whether they have an “I love Muscadet” sticker on the window. You could also visit one of the city’s specialist wine bars, although most ordinary bars in Nantes have at least Muscadet on their wine list.
If you want to buy a bottle (or two), there are also specialist off-licences selling local wines, as well as shops specialising in local products that also stock wine.
You could even do a tour of the Route des Vins and visit some of the local wine-makers, who will be happy to tell you all about their terroir and their methods. I’d strongly recommend it for tourists because you also get to see some stunning landscapes and charming wine estates such as the Génaudières and Château du Coing.
There are also numerous events taking place within Nantes’s wine-growing region, including Vignes Vins Rando, the Voyage dans le Vignoble and Vignoble en Fête. These events are a great alternative way of exploring the area’s wines.