There are 170 winemakers in the Chinon appelation, producing roughly 15 million bottles a year in white (a very small production), red (the bulk of it) and rosé (small, but growing). All winemakers follow the same score, but each one interprets the music in a slightly different manner, resulting in an exciting variety of wines.
If you are new to the game and want to learn how to navigate the “appelation Chinon“, we advise you start with one of the local wine bars/shops or communal cellars to get your bearings and then zoom in on the producers whose wines suit your taste. Except if you are lucky enough to stay with us during the annual wine fair…
Each year, on the 3d Saturday of April, you have the opportunity to meet all of the Chinon winemakers as they gather downtown along the banks of the river and invite you to taste their wines (to verify 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 and Chantons le vin (both 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 ! (“At last some wine!” the widest range of Loire Valley wines to taste + hot dishes)
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)
- If you are in Chinon between July and August, you might want to pay a visit to les Caves Painctes, a spectacular cellar dug under the castle that is home to the local guild of winemakers : Les Entonneurs Rabelaisiens.
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 to Savigny en Véron) or on the south bank (from L’Île-Bouchard to Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne) with a 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 – the latter 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)