When people think of France, wine is one thing that springs to mind. Bordeaux and Champagne are more commonly known, but Poitou-Charentes is not generally associated with wine production. So it comes as a surprise to some that there are a number of wine producing areas in the region.
Thanks to the sunshine, type of soil and the land structure particularly in the north of the Vienne and Deux-Sèvres, there are producers of some excellent wines.
Vins de Saumur
Saumur wines are from Nord Vienne in Poitou-Charentes just south of Saumur. This is a wine growing area with a long history, it produces some red wines, however it is best known for its white wines and its sparkling wines, which many consider a good (and much cheaper) alternative to champagne.
Vins du Haut-Poitou
Just north of Poitiers, Haut-Poitou is the largest of the north Poitou-Charentes wine areas and has a history of vineyards going back to Roman times. Today it is known for its fine white wines but also produces many excellent reds too. In 2011 fourteen vine growers were awarded AOC label status. You can follow the Haut-Poitou wine trail, where you’ll find the Cave de Haut-Poitou which produces 80% of Haut-Poitou wine as a cooperative with around 100 of the other vine growers in the area. They hold guided tours of the cellars and, of course, wine tastings! Specialities include Sauvignon, Rosé, Gamay, Chardonnay and Cabernet.
In north Deux-Sèvres, just south of Angers there are 14 communes who have the right to use the label ‘Anjou’. Red, white and rosé wines and all produced here. A dry white Chenin Blanc, Rosé d’Anjou and Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the better known.
Vins du Thouarsais
Close to Thouars this is a small wine producing area in the Deux-Sèvres department. It is noted for its excellent whites, though it produces some fine cabernet and gamay reds too.
Vins de Pays Charentais
Wine from the Charente and Charente-Maritime. Much of the wine production in this area takes place along the borders of these two departments, between Aulnay to the north, travelling Southwards past Cognac and Saintes to Jonzac further south.
The Île de Ré and the Île d’Oléron off the Atlantic coast also produce wine, and vineyards continue almost as far as the beach resort of Royan.
Some of the best Charentais wine can be found further inland, north-east of Angoulême at a place called Saint-Sornin. The local wine in this area cooperative produce some excellent reds and whites.