There are 70 winemakers in the Chinon district, producing roughly 15 millions bottles a year in white (a very small production), red (the bulk of it) and rosé (small, but growing). All winemakers are bound by a common rule book, but each one of them plays the score in a slightly different manner, resulting in a great variety of wines that can be confusing for the newcomer.
If you are new to the game and want to learn how to navigate the “appelation Chinon“, unless you are lucky enough to stay with us during the annual wine fair, we advise you start with one of the local wine shops or communal cellars to get your bearings and then zoom in on the producers whose wines suit your taste.
Each year, on the 3d Saturday of April, you can meet all Chinon winemakers as they gather dowtown along the banks of the river and invite you to taste their wines (to double check the exact date, look for Vignerons dans la Ville on the website of the AOC)
Wine bars (they always propose cold cuts or cheese platters)
- In Chinon : La Cabane à Vins (rue des Halles) ; La Cave Voltaire (rue Voltaire) ; our hotel also has a bar that proposes a selection of fine Chinon wines in red, rosé and white.
- In Candes Saint Martin : Enfin du Vin ! (the widest range of Loire Valley wines to taste)
Communal cellars (they do not usually propose food with the tasting)
- In Chinon : Cave Monplaisir (on the banks of the river, exiting Chinon towards the west)
- In Beaumont-en-Véron (by car or bike) : Maison des vins du Véron
- In Panzoult (by car or bike) : Cave touristique de Panzoult (worth the visit for its proportions and unique stone sculptures)
Winemakers in Chinon (accessible on foot)
If you want to skip the fair, the wine bars and the communal cellars, some winemakers have set up shop in Chinon and you can get a tasting, with (or without) visiting their cellars and winemaking facilities.
In the old town
- Cave Plouzeau (rue Haute Saint-Maurice, worth the visit for its sheer proportions)
- Couly-Dutheil (rue Diderot, just behind the hotel)
Around the north entrance to the castle
- Cave du Grand Bouqueteau
- Cave des Silènes (Domaine Charles Joguet)
- Couly-Dutheil (Clos de l’Echo)
On the wine trail
And if you want to get down and dirty about it, you can get in your car and tour the Chinon district, either north of the river Vienne (from L’Île-Bouchard – roughly – to Savigny en Véron) or on the south bank (from L’Île-Bouchard – roughly – to Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne) with the winemakers list on your lap. You will find a good listing on the AOC website, and a selection of addresses on the website of Vignoble et Découvertes local chapter – this one including restaurants and hotels and covering Bourgueil and Azay as well. Most winemakers that advertise on the side of the wine trail welcome tourists and master at least one foreign language, usually english. Some have full-fledged visitors centers and offer a range of wine-related experiences from elaborate picnics to horse carriage rides to escape games.
Then again, Chinon is only one of the Loire Valley wines and its district is surrounded by other “appelations” that may catch your fancy :
- Vouvray and Montlouis (1 hour drive to the east)
- Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil (30 minute drive to the north)
- Touraine Noble-Joué (the smallest with 5 producers of rosé, 1 hour drive to the east)
- Touraine Azay-le-Rideau (20 minute drive to the east)
- Saumur and Saumur-Champigny (half an hour drive to the west)