Vignobles Berthier, 2021 Update
The Central Vineyard appellations are dominated by Sancerre, which has over 3,000 hectares of vines planted, followed by Pouilly-Fumé, with about 1,300 hectares. Both appellations are rich in fabulous terroirs, in particular the Kimmeridgian soils around Chavignol and the flinty slopes of Saint-Andélain. And both are rich in famous names, too many to mention here. A wine drinker could spend a lifetime exploring these two appellations and even then not exhaust the possibilities.
But where should you look if you fancy a change of scene? I suspect many people would suggest Menetou-Salon, Quincy or Reuilly, but another appellation worth exploring is the Coteaux du Giennois. This tiny appellation (there are just 200 hectares of it) is essentially a northwards continuation of the Pouilly-Fumé vineyards on the right bank of the Loire. Having said that, the geology of the these two appellations is decidedly different.
It’s time for a quick geology-and-terroir recap. Travelling through the Pouilly-Fumé appellation, following the flow of the river, the limestones progress from Oxfordian, the oldest, to Kimmeridgian and then to Tithonian (or Portlandian if you prefer), which is the youngest. Keep following the river into the Coteaux du Giennois appellation and the bedrock is even younger, limestone here being of Turonian or Senonian origin. This is the same limestone found throughout Vouvray, Chinon and Saumur, but here it is not Chenin Blanc or Cabernet Franc we find planted, but Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay and Pinot Noir. It is an interesting combination of variety and terroir which mirrors that seen on the best slopes along the banks of the Cher, and is less commonly encountered in the Loire Valley than you might think.