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There are three types of sparkling wines in the Loire Valley: Saumur Mousseux AC, Vouvray and Crémant de Loire. Let’s look at the differences.
Location, climate & soils
Saumur is a district in the Loire and partly overlaps with the area for Crémant de Loire. The overall climate is cool, although the cool influences form the Atlantic are decreasing and the climate is changing to a more continental one. The soils are mainly chalky limestone, called tuffeau.
Crémant de Loire covers the appellations Anjou, Saumur and Touraine.
- For white, a minimum of 60% chenin blanc
- Not more than 20% chardonnay and sauvignon blanc (combined)
- For rosé, minimum of 60% cabernet franc
- Always 100% chenin blanc, so no rosé production.
Crémant de Loire
- For white, a minimum of 70% chenin blanc. It’s typically a blend of chenin blanc, cabernet franc and chardonnay.
- Rosé is typically a blend of cabernet franc and grolleau
- Compared with Saumur sparkling wine, the rules for Crémant de Loire allow a higher percentage of Chardonnay and red grapes such as Pinot Noir and Cabernet.
- Important to note, pinot noir is not much used in whites here.
Mechanical harvest is allowed for Saumur Mousseux and Vouvray. For Crémant de Loire, it’s not, the grapes must be hand harvested.
All have to be made following the traditional method.
Styles & producers
- In terms of sweetness, the majority is produced in a bone-dry, brut, style for all appellations.
- Saumur Mousseux and Crémant de Loire are made in white and rosé style.
- In Saumur, there are also red versions produced, but they are not allowed to claim the AOC status.
- Vouvray is only made in Brut and Pétillant style.
- The best known houses are Bouvet-Ladubay and Gratien & Meyer. Bouvet-Ladubay is now owned by the Taittinger Group.
Sources & suggested reading:
- Tom Stevenson & Essi Avalan – The World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wines
- Decanter – Sparkling Wines