There was a time, I am not sure how long ago, maybe three or four decades, when having reached this point in my guide to the wines of the Anjou region I would begin drawing things to a close. After all, I have now delved deeply into the wines of the Coteaux du Layon, its extensive and fascinating history, its villages and its crus, from the still under-rated (despite the grandeur of the name eventually arrived at) wines of the Coteaux du Layon Premier Cru Chaume appellation, to the unrivalled brilliance of Quarts de Chaume, and the sometimes puzzling reticence of Bonnezeaux.
After a quick glance sideways at the Coteaux de l’Aubance appellation, I then hopped over the Loire, just as Henry de Rochejaquelein once did (now there is an obscure Ligérian semi-viticultural historical reference for you), to call in on Savennières. Again, I took a deep dive into this appellation’s history, and explored in considerable detail not only the vineyards of the broader appellation, but also the backstory and modern extent of two of the newest additions to the Loire Valley’s roll call of micro-appellations, Savennières Roche-aux-Moines and Coulée de Serrant.
So, job done?
In short, no.
Aside from the fact that we still have one or two oddities (and who doesn’t love a vinous oddity now and again?) to call on, such as the Anjou Coteaux de la Loire appellation, the appellation to the north of the Loire from which Savennières originally sprang, there is also the not insignificant matter of the Anjou appellations. Now while I accept a merry trot through generic, region-wide appellations such as Anjou might not strike you as an immediate thrill, these days Anjou is an appellation that can not be overlooked. It is home to some of the region’s and indeed the Loire Valley’s most revered vignerons. One taste of a dry Chenin Blanc from the likes of Richard Leroy (pictured below), Mark Angeli, Jo Pithon or Claude Papin (I know two members of this quartet quit the appellation for Vin de France more than a decade ago, and the other two are retired, but bear with me) will soon have you thirsting for more information (even if you are no longer actually thirsty).
The Anjou appellation, whether viewed through the wines fashioned by the old hands mentioned above, or those made by some of the young guns who have been slowly usurping them, can therefore not be glossed over. Neither can its rosé offshoots, Rosé d’Anjou and Cabernet d’Anjou, nor the superior red wine enclaves of Anjou-Villages and Anjou-Villages Brissac. And so, in this and the next four instalments of my guide to the wines of Anjou I will look at all these appellations in detail, beginning here with Anjou.