10 March 2012

New Touraine AOC wine districts

Starting this spring, with the release of the 2011 vintage, the Loire Valley will have two new AOC designations — Touraine-Chenonceaux and Touraine-Oisly. The Touraine is an extensive area of vineyards with prestigious AOCs including Bourgueil, Chinon, Vouvray, and Montlouis as well as different Touraine sub-appellations.

Touraine-Chenonceaux has been defined as the grape-growing areas that lie on both sides of the Cher River from Bléré on the west to the villages just east Saint-Aignan upriver. It includes the villages and towns of Chenonceaux, Francueil, Montrichard, Angé, Pouillé, Thésée, Mareuil-sur-Cher, Noyers-sur-Cher, Couffy, and Meusnes. In all, about 30 communes ("municipalities") are part of the new district.

A map showing the approximate areas covered by the
Touraine-Chenonceaux and Touraine-Oisly AOCs

Touraine-Oisly is an area north of Saint-Aignan and south of Blois, centered on the village of Oisly (pronounced [wah-LEE], near the larger town of Contres. It includes Saint-Romain-sur-Cher, where the wine co-op is one of our favorite places for wine, with good value for the money you pay. Touraine-Oisly covers an area of 10 communes.

The other Touraine sub-appellations are Azay-le-Rideau and Noble-Joué, both on the west side of Tours, and Amboise and Mesland, along the Loire River between Tours and Blois. Our area along the Cher River will probably come to be called the pays de Chenonceaux over time, and that will give it some extra recognition.

AOCs — appellations d'origine contrôlées ("controlled designations of origin")— define areas where specific agricultural products are produced and allow producers to label products with that specific geographical name. It's an official stamp of approval, and is designed to be a guarantee of quality for consumers — or, at least, authenticity.

The eastern part of the Touraine wine region

Unlike the situation with a product like, for example, Cheddar cheese, which can be made anywhere in the world and still be called cheddar, in France AOC product names are tightly regulated. To give another example, you can't call a sparkling wine champagne unless it comes from the Champagne region and is made from the juice of specific grape varieties, by approved methods.

In France, the AOCs are set up by a government committee called the Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualité. Getting an AOC designation for a wine, cheese, or other product produced in a specific region by strictly-defined methods and practices is both an honor and a responsibility for people who work in the food and wine business.


  1. I've been told by one winemaker at Saint-Georges-sur-Cher they are very happy to become Touraine-Chenonceaux. The name Chenonceaux is much more recognised outside of France than Touraine and they feel it will help them sell their wine. Also they have a genuine historical connection with the Chenonceau estate, having been given the land where they are now in return for handing over their original farm to the chateau in the 17thC.

  2. Cheddar escaped before people really started to give designation accreditations... my favourite is Quickes [when you can get hold of it], which is crumbly, nutty to taste and has lactic acid crystals in it to give extra crunch... it also melts wonderfully. The 'real' cheddars, like Quickes, have begun to clearly mark their cheese as to where it comes from... the region around Cheddar! Mind you... you pay through the nose for them nowadays... 'cos they are special!!

    great to hear about more wine AOCs round here... so many wines... so many new beers... so many wonderful varieties of cheese... so little time!

  3. With the new Appelation controlée, wine will be more expensive, no doubt.
    Do they envision any shortage?

  4. CHM, from what I read the only red wine that will be given the AOC Touraine-Chenonceaux is Cabernet Franc, Côt, or a blend of the two. Gamay will remain AOC Touraine without a suffix. For white wines, Sauvignon Blanc will be T-Chenonceaux. For us, Gamay and local Chardonnay are our mainstays, and those prices shouldn't change rapidly. Only time will tell.


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