Central Loire Vineyards – 1990 – 2017


1990 - 2017a

The last 27 years has seen very considerably changes in the Central Loire Vineyards. With one sole exception it has been a tale of success and expansion. It is fascinating to compare the area planted in each of the Central Loire appellation in 1990 with the area planted in 2017.

An overall increase of 2451 hectares in production – a 77% increase – are the headline figures. However, the dramatic revival of appellations such as Quincy and Reuilly that in the 1970s and for much of the 1980s are perhaps the most interesting. The revival of Reuilly owes much to the late Claude Lafond, who had the vision to persuade the few producers to work together and to establish a common wine-making facility above the small town of Reuilly. It was similar in neighbouring Quincy where a common winery was built at the village of Brinay. These wineries are different from a cave co-operative. Here the producers make with guidance, keep and sell their own wine themselves. The facilities are shared but not the wine.

Equally the expansion of Menetou-Salon up by nearly 200% from 196 hectares in 1990 to 576 ha last year is impressive. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé have seen the largest increase in terms of hectares – 1032 ha and 580ha respectively.

Pouilly-sur-Loire – 100% Chasselas – is the only appellation in decline: slipping from 56 hectares planted in 1990 to just 27 last year. Doubtless those lost hectares of Chasselas have been replanted with Sauvignon Blanc – Pouilly-Fumé is so much easier to sell.

The changes in the Central Loire are in marked contrast with the contraction in the area planted with Melon de Bourgogne for Muscadet in the Pays Nantais. In 1990 all the Muscadet appellations covered 11,280 hectares – this doesn’t include Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu which was promoted to appellation status in 1994. At its highest point Muscadet reached some 13300 hectares. By 2016 this area had dropped to a total of 8200 ha. Of these Muscadet Sèvre et Maine accounted for 6300 ha, Côtes de Grandlieu – 230 ha, Coteaux de la Loire – 150 ha.

Even with this sharp contraction Muscadet (820 ha) is still substantially larger than the whole of the Central Vineyard combined – 5750 hectares.


Visit to FilipaP



14 réflexions sur “Central Loire Vineyards – 1990 – 2017

  1. Very interesting. I wonder if a terroir like Sancerre can really be extended like that and keep its integrity. What kind of soils, expositions, etc… are the new vines and do they correspond with the old? Or is it a reconquest of ancient abandoned parcelles? Who says where one can plant and one cannot? We don’t get a lot of information on this from the syndicats, in Sancerre or elsewhere.


    1. From my frequent visits to Sancerre I am not aware of vines being planted on unsuitable flat land. In any case there is little low flat land around Sancerre. Also on some of the steeper slopes such as Les Monts Damnés there were abandoned parcels.

      I think every French appellation has a defined zone that can be potentially be planted. Whether the full potential area is planted will depend on factors such as planting rights and whether it is commercially attractive to plant more vineyards.


  2. Yes Jim but you know the aires d’appellation often date back from a long time ago, when the prerequisites for making AOC wine were not the same; I was wondering more about the types of soil (marnes, caillottes, silex, etc) and the northern expositions.


  3. Jim Budd

    Although the zones were fixed many years ago I am not convinced that the criteria for suitable land suitable for vines has changed. As far as I am aware vines continue to be planted on the three types of soil and not on flat clay land. The vineyards around Chavignol are an example. The vines here are on the slopes – some very steep. As soon as you crest the hill out of Chavignol the vines stop.


  4. To all of you. The expansion of those appellations is a fact you observe and witness. Any explanation?
    It surely shows those wines get sold.
    Is the yield similar to past decades? Is the price range comparable? Have those wines become so much better/fashionable/more advertised?


    1. Jim Budd

      Luc. Sancerre, as you know, has been the great success story of the Loire. In the 1950s the area was very poor and essentially mixed farming. Today it is the Loire’s wealthiest appellation with the best equipped wineries. I remain impressed by the desire of the top producers to look for continuous improvement. I don’t have figures for yields for the whites but certainly the yields for Pinot Noir have been cut severely by those looking to make serious PN.

      However, to put this expansion in context New Zealand produced its first Sauvignon Blanc in 1979. By 2002 there were 3685 hectares of SB planted. Now it is 21,400 hectares (2016 stats).


  5. Don’t think you can compare NZ and Sancerre. Moreover, I’m convinced (cannot prove it, but you know the Lance Armstrong story) the Kiwi’s are a huge cheat.The wine law in NZ is a joke and a fraud. Even the figures for the number of acres of SB cannot be trusted.
    But this doesn’t help us with the Loire vineyard. White Sancerre has always been my Mum’s favorite and therefore, I’m partial. The best have always been very good. And now, the best are … many. On top of that, yields average 70-80 hl/ha (yes they do). This is as much as cru classé Bordeaux (red) and means good money.
    As for the reds based on PN, you cannot convince me. It’s junk, even in the best of Menetou hands.


    1. By the way (I try to go on), this rather , huh, … free comment on my behalf is written after 50 cl of Clos des Huttières 1995 (Lebreton), a delicious wine (mahogany in colour) and « Chien-chien » (2015) from La Noblaie. You see I pay tribute to Loire’s wines in my own right.

      Aimé par 1 personne

    2. Jim Budd

      Luc. Very pleased to learn that you consider Central Loire PN is ‘junk’, so there is more for myself and others who appreciate its quality. Entirely a valid point to contrast the expansion in plantings in the Central Vineyards with those in New Zealand.


  6. Dear Jim,

    I’m not sure I understand your request.
    I comment less than I used too (for personal reasons … aging).
    Christine bought a new computer and I find that, when my typing goes faster (4 fingers only but quick), the programs play tricks on me.
    Hence, I have resorted to a plain word processor now, and I will download it to your blog.
    What I really think – is always what I explain, no hidden agenda – is that Loire PN is a joke. And I don’t know why.
    I’ve been brought up (not educated) by a grandmother who was actually a primary school teacher. I could read before I went to school. And I was able to appreciate wine (in moderate quantity) by the same time (5 years of age). She loved Rhine riesling, gewurz from the Haut-Rhin, Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, good Beaujolais, Sancerre and Pouilly, and, above all … red Burgundy. I still believe 95 % of red Burgundy is junk as well (and expensive). But Mortet’s Chambertin, La Tache (never had a Romanée Conti, not a single one), Capitain’s Renardes … are wonderful bottles. Possibly the best wines in the world.
    I was a good friend of father Pellé (back from North Africa) and I think is son is doing a great job … with white wines. But I’m still unconvinced by their PN, and by all others I happen to lay my mouth on in the Loire area.
    I drink decent PN in Alsace, in Northern USA … but not in the Loire. Maybe I miss the best ones. This is all I say, no fence sitting.
    And I don’t claim universal truth. I just express an opinion, in the most sincere of earnests.
    Btw, tonight is Valentine. I cooked scallops (with a rosé Crémant d’Alsace, bone dry) and then a Charolais roastbeef, which we accompanied with (by?) my very own Casot 2008 (100 % grenache, 9 hl/ha, 16,3 vol %). Therefore, I’m not sozzled this time, just sloshed!


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