Red, white and rosé wine from the Poitou-Charentes – definitely worth discovering!
It may come as a surprise that the Poitou-Charentes has wine – but it most certainly does! And it doesn’t just make for enjoyable drinking – why not visit a domaine to and meet the producers who are making their mark not just locally, but increasingly throughout France.
To see why wines from the Poitou-Charentes – red, white and rosé – are doing well, you only have look consider a little geography. Look at the map, cast your eyes north of Poitiers and you’ll see that this part of the region of winemakers is right next door to Saumur, the Touraine and the Anjou. Given that sunshine, soil type and topography are no great respecters of human boundaries, it’s not surprising that parts of the Poitou-Charentes region – notably the north of the Vienne and Deux-Sèvres – produce some excellent wines.
Indeed, once upon a time this was a renowned wine area and vineyards have been part of the landscape since Roman times. In the early Middle Ages the wine-making of this region reached its peak, and local wines and vineyards were highly prized by noblemen. However, the vineyards went into a slow decline and like so many areas were devastated by the phylloxera. It is only in recent years that the industry has seen a revival.
There are five distinct wine-making areas in the Poitou-Charentes”¦
Vins du Haut-Poitou (just north of Poitiers): the Haut-Poitou winemaking area was granted its own AOC label for the 2011 harvest onwards, meaning the AOC will be on labels from 2012 and the years following. The area itself is a relatively small one, just north of Poitiers, with 44 communes in the Vienne plus two in the neighbouring Deux-Sèvres. The majority of the wine made here is produced by the wine cooperative Cave du Haut Poitou. Read more at our sister website Poitou-Charentes wine.
Vins de Thouarsais (slightly further north and west, based around Thouars): this is an even smaller wine-producing area, covering just 15 communes in the Deux-Sèvres to the north of the region. In fact there are just 25 hectares currently producing Vins du Thouarsais! But though it does not have its own AOC it does have the Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) label and produces some excellent wines. Read more at our sister website Poitou-Charentes wine.
Vins de Saumur, nord Vienne (an area in the Vienne department in Poitou-Charentes but only just south of Saumur):
This famous wine area has its own AOC and has a great history too. When Henry Count of Anjou became King Henry II of England in 1154, this led to a great demand for the wines of the Saumur as English noblemen became particularly fond of it. Today the Saumur wine area is mostly in the Pays de la Loire region but also includes nine communes in the Vienne in Poitou-Charentes. Read more at our sister website Poitou-Charentes wine.
Vins d’Anjou, Deux-Sèvres (again, just in Poitou-Charentes but just south of Angers or the Anjou wine area):
the wines produced across just 14 communes in the north of the Deux-Sèvres come under the well-known AOC of Anjou, most of which is in the Maine-et-Loire department in the Pays de la Loire region to the north. There are also nine communes in the Vienne under the Anjou AOC. Read more at our sister website Poitou-Charentes wine.
Vins de Pays Charentaise: while the above might be the most prestigious Poitou-Charentes wines – because of the Haut-Poitou, Saumur and Anjou names – they are certainly not the only good wines produced in the region. Indeed the wines known as the Vins de Pays Charentais – www.vindepayscharentais.fr – meaning wine from the Charente and Charente-Maritime are very popular with people who know their way around a vineyard and conceal some hidden treasures. Read more at our sister website Poitou-Charentes wine.
One of the delights of locals wines such as these is that one can chance upon a great producer in the most quiet and out of the way spots. And if you’re lucky you might get asked into a winemaker’s home for a tasting!
* READ MORE AT POITOU-CHARENTES WINE
Words: Michael STREETER
Photographs: © JÃ¶rg Jahn – Fotolia.com; lynnlin – Shutterstock