If you’re a wine chaser looking for a new destination to explore, consider a visit to the vineyards near Nantes. This famous wine region is home to France’s famous Muscadet wines, and a bit off the beaten path for most tourists to the Loire Valley. So pack your bags and come explore the west end of Loire.
Loire Valley is a wine growing region in the middle of France, that starts south of Paris and runs along the Loire River to the Atlantic ocean. There is so much to discover in Loire Valley. World renowned Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc wines from Sancerre and Vouvray come from Loire, but as the river runs west toward the coast, the climate and terroir shift, creating different growing conditions that result in very different wines.
Wine Grapes Grown Near Nantes
Several wine grapes are cultivated in the area surrounding Nantes, but these are the most common for crafting the local wines.
Gros Plant is the regional wine produced with Folle Blanche. It’s sometimes blended with Colombard, but usually Gros Plant wines are 100% Folle Blanche. These wines can be quite dry and acidic for white wines, so they are often aged on their lees for more roundness. Winegrowers have been replacing the Folle Blanche in the region with hardier varietals over time, so be sure to taste it while you’re there. It might become more rare in the future.
Melon de Bourgogne
Melon de Bourgogne is the most commonly planted grape in the region, and it is used to make Muscadet wine. Muscadet is a dry white wine that is only produced in this part of the country. Many Muscadet winemakers age their wine with the lees in order to create a more balanced flavor profile. These wines are labeled “sur lie,” a term that can only be used on wine labels from producers in certain appellations.
To learn more about the specific Muscadet appellations, read this guide on western Loire and the Muscadet wine region.
Pinot Gris, or Malvoisie, is particularly suited to the colder climate of Pays Nantais. Pinot Gris is used to produce dry white wine with notes of peach and honey, but some producers create dessert wines with it.
Chenin Blanc is a white grape varietal that tends to make off-dry and acidic wines, often with citrus and green apple characteristics. In Pays Nantais, Chenin Blanc wines have floral aromas to complement the classic flavors in this grape.
Cabernet Franc is a black grape varietal that produces medium to full bodied red wines with velvety tannins and dark berry notes with a bit of pepper. Some Muscadet producers are also growing Cabernet Franc under the label Val de Loire, as these wines can’t be called Muscadet.
Most wine lovers will go to Burgundy for Pinot Noir, but there are some great wines being produced in western Loire with this grape. Most known for resulting in light to medium bodied red wines with a healthy amount of acidity. Cherry and raspberry are key flavors, along with hibiscus and mushroom, but some Pinot Noir grown in this region can be quite floral.
Originally from Burgundy, Gamay is a varietal used to make light-bodied red wines that are juicy, fruity and fresh. In this Pays Nantais region of France, you’ll find it grown in the Coteaux d’Ancenis appellation, also used in rosé wines.
Vineyards Close to Nantes
These Nantes vineyards are within a 30 minute drive of the city center and the wineries are well-known for their exceptional wines. Build an itinerary with any of these wineries near Nantes and you will have a well-rounded education on wine in the region.
Domaine de l’Ecu
Domaine de l’Ecu practices biodynamic farming in their vineyards and ages wine in amphorae. A wide variety of grapes are grown on 23 hectares of vineyard to produce some of the best wines in the region. Some of Domaine de l’Ecu’s wines are found on wine lists at the best restaurants in the world (like Noma). If you’re in Nantes and looking for a vineyard to visit, Domaine de l’Ecu should be on your list. Tastings are available by appointment.
Château de la Cassemichère
Visit the cellars of a 17th century building surrounded by a sprawling vineyard estate. where Château de la Cassemichère is located. Rich in history, the chateau maintains a legacy of winemaking through generations. Cassemichère makes multiple labels of wine in various styles. A visit to the estate offers two wine tasting options to taste three wines, with or without a food pairing.
Domaine des Génaudières
A producer of a variety of wines including Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire, Domaine des Génaudières is located northwest of Nantes on the banks of the Loire River. It is a beautiful property for wine tasting, as you can look down onto the river from the gently sloping vineyards above. Domaine des Génaudières also has a cottage for rent, should you prefer to stay in the countryside instead of Nantes.
Domaine Landron is located in the Muscadet Sevre et Maine appellation, and is known for crafting super Muscadet and Muscadet sur lie wines. The family has been cultivating wine since the 1950s, and the vineyards have grown to 50 hectares of certified organic vineyard. Tastings are available by appointment only and offer an opportunity to sample Muscadet wines from precise vineyard plots and learn about terroir.
Château du Coing
The Château du Coing is one estate of Vignobles Günter Chereau in the appellation of Muscadet Sevre et Maine. This historic winery has been operated through several family generations since 1536. Working towards organic status, this Nantes vineyard estate’s wines are fruity, floral, and contain some minerality. Muscadet wines are aged on the lees underground. The Chateau is a beautiful place to go wine tasting when in Nantes. Plus, they offer some unique experiences to see the estate and vineyards by bike or segway.
Domaine de la Pépière
Domaine de la Pépière is a winery located south of Nantes in Maisdon sur Sèvre. The vineyards were built from scratch in the 1980s by its founder Marc Olivier. The domaine produces esteemed Muscadet AOC and Communal wines, plus some fun Val de Loire labels in unique-to-the-area varietals. They excel at the terroir-driven approach they are devoted to practicing. Pépière is only a short drive from Nantes, so contact the winery for details about tastings and tours.