Located just northeast of Sancerre, Coteaux du Giennois produces fresh and crisp white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, but it is also home to some of Centre-Loire’s most compelling red and rosé wines. Like elsewhere in the region, Pinot Noir stands out for its elegant profile, but Gamay is sometimes blended with Pinot Noir for cuvées with red and dark berry fruit tones, along with an intriguing peppery note.
Grape seeds dating back to the 2nd century were unearthed during archaeological digs and these artifacts prove a long history of winemaking in the region. According to records from 1218, the Royal Court of King Philippe II Auguste in Paris purchased Coteaux du Giennois wine, an indication of the area’s reputation for high-quality wines. With the proliferation of abbeys in the region, more vineyards were planted and a robust wine industry developed.
Flint and calcareous soils can be found along the hillsides, as well as limestone to the east of the Cosne fault and siliceous with flint to the west. This diversity creates expressive wines with a purity of fruit. Like elsewhere in Centre-Loire, a bright minerality runs through the appellation’s Sauvignon Blanc, while quince and white flower aromas add to the heady perfume of the wine. The red wine blends allow up to 80 percent of either Gamay or Pinot Noir. Light-to-medium-bodied, they sing with freshness. Vibrant fruit flavors come through on the palate, which are balanced by the savory pop of spice. Rosés, which can also be either blends or single-varietal wines, call forth the blackberry and cherry flavors of the red wines but are still dry and refreshing. Like elsewhere in the region, rosé is produced in one of two methods: either by quickly pressing the grapes to ensure little skin contact or through the saignée method, where a certain amount of free-run juice is “bled” off after a short maceration. The first method yields a pale rosé, while the latter gives a more intense color and slightly riper, fuller style.
Altogether, Coteaux du Giennois is only about 500 acres with a mere 35 producers. But these passionate winemakers are committed to showcasing why their small AOC is an ideal place for wine.