France’s longest and laziest river provides relaxing riding in the shadow of impressive Chateaux. Here we meet the first vineyards of our trip and are introduced to the wines of the Loire region and fantastic sparkling crement from Saumur .
Just south of the Loire river and the city of Angers this area was traditionally known for its sweet white wine but it more recently boasts some fine quality dry white wines. On the St Malo to Nice route you can cycle right through the heartlands of Anjou-Villages Brissac AOCand Coteaux de l’Aubance AOC as vineyard lines lanes lead to the small town of Brissac Quince guarded by its chateaux.
Anjou-Villages Brissac AOCincludes some of the best vineyard parcels of Anjou AOC specializing in Cabernet France based wines than can be suitable for ageing. The red wine often has dark berry arromas and liquorice developing leather tones with age. Usually full bodies with firm tannins. Can be great with a casserole of local Mushrooms.
Coteaux de l’Aubance AOC covers a similar geographical area but produces Sweet white wines from Chenin Blanc which can be racy in youth but can age and evolve for up to a decade in bottle. A deep golden colour with hints of green when younger giving aromas of flowers and white fruits.
One of the largest Caves in Brissac Quince operating for over 60 years, pop in for a degustation or a drop to accompany your picnic Tuesday to Saturday 9-12.30 14.30-18.30
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A wine growing area named after the main town of Saumur which sits 30 miles upstream of Angers. The suburb of St Hillaire has kilometres of cellars carved into the soft local tuffeau where Saumur’s sparkling Cremant is Aged.
Saumur is also home to the Anjou Velo Vintage festival every June a celebration of classic cycling, clothing and of course wines from the Loire.
Cremant de Loire AOC
Some say less flavoursome than Champagne but Sparkling Saumurs are increasing in quality. Cremant de Loire AOC label has less geographical specificity than Saumur but has strictly rules of production.
Saumur Champigny AOC
The vineyards which line the route between the town of Saumur and the small village of Champigny produce refreshing reds from Cabernet Franc. Many believe Champigny’s name comes from Latin campus igni (field of fire) a nod to the warm micro-climate in summer which allows the Cabernet Franc to ripen well. The nose is typically of soft red and black fruits, a hint of violet with velvety tannins in the mouth.
Ackerman one of the most famous names of Cremant de Loire can be found on the cycle route just before entering the town of Saumur. With miles of caves, a self guided digital tour and tastings of still as well as sparkling wines. Open 9.30 to 18.30 everyday
Stage 6: Chalonnes-sur-Loire to Brissac Quince
Stage 7: Brissac Quince to Fontevraud l’Abbaye