The Loire Valley is a key wine region in western France. It follows the course of the Loire river on its long journey through the heart of France, from the inland hills of Auvergne to the plains on the French Atlantic coast near Nantes (Muscadet country).
White wines are clearly the Loire Valley's strong suit, and account for the vast majority of production.
The key white-wine grape varieties used to make Loire Valley whites are Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne and, more popular than traditional, Chardonnay.
Loire reds are of increasingly high quality, and of increasing importance as consumer preferences continue to move toward red wines. Although they offer less stylistic diversity than the whites, a light-bodied, fruity Gamay from the Fiefs Vendeens is a nevertheless quite different from a spicy, tannic Bourgueil. The number one red-wine variety is unquestionably Cabernet Franc, the grape behind the reds of Chinon, Saumur and Bourgueil. Lighter-bodied, less "serious" wines are made from Pinot Noir, Malbec (known here as Côt) and Gamay.