Wine Tour to the Loire Valley
11th-15th June 2024 – limited availability
18th-22nd June 2024 – fully booked
5 days/4 nights based in Angers or Saumur, £1,449pp, £150 single supplement
Price excludes travel to/from our Meeting/Departure Points/Early booking discount available
- Visit major regions of the Lower Loire, such as Muscadet, Savennières, Coteaux du Layon, Vouvray, Chinon.
- Taste wines at top estates: whites, reds, rosés, sparkling, sweet.
- Stay in Angers or Saumur, both beautiful river side cities.
- Enjoy the varied scenery and wonderful gastronomy of the region.
- At least six visits over three days.
- Comprehensive tastings at every visit, and four fabulous tasting lunches or dinners
Tuesday 11th-Saturday 15th June 2024 – limited availability
Tuesday 18th-Saturay 22nd June 2024 – fully booked
Our tour commences at our Meeting Point at our hotel in Angers or Saumur. In the evening we will stroll out to a local restaurant where we will enjoy a first night dinner that introduces the region.
Day 2 – Touraine
We board the coach to head east to Touraine where we will enjoy superb red wines made from Cabernet Franc in Chinon, and explore the amazing range of wine styles that can be made from the Chenin Blanc grape in Vouvray and Montlouis. We will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, accompanied by these lovely wines.
Evening at leisure.
Day 3 – Pays Nantais
Our coach takes us west, towards the Atlantic coast, for our day in the Pays Nantais. Muscadet wines are still hugely popular worldwide and deservedly so – they complement the local seafood cuisine superbly. We will explore the increasing diversity of Muscadet through the visits we make, including the Cru wines that are taking the concept of Sur Lie further and producing wines with complex flavours and great ageing potential. Our lunch will, of course, focus on sea, and give a wonderful opportunity to verify what a great gastronomic wine Muscadet is. Red lovers will be able to enjoy wines from the local AOC Coteaux d’Ancenis, and for those that do not eat fish we will of course ensure alternative options are available.
Evening at leisure.
Day 4 – Anjou-Saumur
Staying close to home, we visit the Anjou-Saumur region, where the Chenin Blanc grape variety reveals even more complexity. Here the autumnal morning mists encourage the formation of Botrytis, which in the Coteaux du Layon produces fabulous unctuous sweet wines. Bonnezeaux is one of the AOCs we will explore, here the production of sweet wine achieves a whole new level, while in Savennières, the breezy conditions reduce the impact of botrytis, but sun blessed river bank vineyards enable the production of some of the most amazing dry white wines in the world. We will take a light lunch, probably at one of the wineries we visit, to ensure we are well prepared for our spectacular final night gastronomic dinner.
Our tour ends after breakfast.
Note: the Itinerary may be changed at Tim Syrad Wine Tours discretion so as to facilitate the smooth running of the tour and to accommodate great opportunities for visits or tastings that may become available.
Key Tour Information
* The Key Tour Information specifies what you should expect from the tour, no matter how far ahead you book.
As additional information is published on the website, it will be advised to clients who have reserved a place. The daily itinerary will be finalised in the weeks leading up to the Start Date.
- £1,449 per person based on 2 people sharing a double/twin room.
- £150 supplement for single occupancy of a double room,
- £100 discount for bookings made before 1st January 2024, and paid for 12 weeks before departure.
- 5 days (including arrival and departure days)/4 nights bed and breakfast in good quality 4 star hotel in Angers or Saumur.
- Coach for all activities in the itinerary.
- Three full days of visits and tastings.
- Six visits/tastings, including wineries in Muscadet, Angers, Saumur and Tours, tasting the key grape varieties and styles of the region.
- Four lunches/dinners with local wines.
- All local taxes and service charges.
- The services of Tim Syrad as your Wine Tour Manager and Wine Guide.
It is a condition of my accepting a booking that you will take out appropriate travel insurance – please see our Terms and Conditions Section 8.
Terms and Conditions are available here or on request.
Please note travel to destination is not included in the price. Many of my clients prefer to extend their holiday before or after my tours, so I let people make their own travel arrangements.
* End of Key Tour Information
Travel to/from the Tour
I am recommending travel by Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord, and then from Montparnasse to Angers/Saumur. A train leaving St Pancras around 1000 will arrive with sufficient time to cross Paris by taxi or metro, and catch a train arriving at Angers by 1630/Saumur by 1730.
Please contact me if you would like to discuss travel options, for example flying to Paris and taking the train or driving. I cannot arrange travel for you, but I can advise on what might work best.
How to Book this Tour
Please contact me by phone or email, or use the enquiry form on the Contact page on the website to check availability. When I confirm a place is available, please complete the booking form to reserve your place.
Once I have confirmed a tour is proceeding I advise clients to arrange flights and confirm travel arrangements to me. Please do not arrange flights before I have confirmed your place and that the tour is proceeding.
Full payment must be made 12 weeks before the tour starts, invoices will be sent out 14 weeks before the tour starts. Two weeks before the tour starts you will need to provide your insurance details (name of insurer, policy number, 24 hour emergency telephone numbers), outbound/inbound travel arrangements and any dietary requirements.
More about my Wine Tour to the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley, which stretches 400km from Sancerre in the east to Nantes in the west, is the third largest appellation in France, but outside France its wines do not win anything like as much shelf space as Bordeaux and Burgundy, numbers one and two respectively. We know Muscadet, for its affinity for fish dishes, we know Sancerre, the spiritual home of Sauvignon Blanc, but in between can be found some of the most delicious wines in the world, broadly made from just two grape varieties: Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
Its temperate climate, more maritime (and cooler and wetter) near the sea, more continental (warmer and drier) inland lends itself to high quality wine production though there is much variation from year to year. Some years the rain holds off in the autumn and mists form along the river, favouring the production of glorious botrytised wines. Some years warm, long summers favour Cabernet Franc, and the red wines of beautiful flavour and freshness, with cellaring potential are made. Every year allows rosé to be made, from a palate of red grape varieties (some with a dash of white grapes), of varying levels of sweetness and great affinity for local cuisine. Even the coolest years ensure grapes perfect for sparkling wine are produced, with white and rosé ‘Method Traditionelle’ wines maturing on their lees in the cellars dug deep into the chalky hillsides. While on this trip we will not be venturing as far as the Upper Loire, we will enjoy taste fresh, grassy Sauvignon Blanc from the Touraine region, along with the amazing variety of wines produced from Chenin Blanc in the tuffeau soils of Vouvray.
Where we will be staying
We will be based either in Anjou or Saumur, specific hotels to be confirmed nearer the time. Both are pretty towns, built from the local tuffeau stone, with wineries dotting the streets, and cellars housing millions of bottles beneath. Our four star hotel will be situated so that on our free evenings we can stroll out to enjoy the local bars and restaurants.
What we will be eating
The chateaux of the Loire are evidence of a prestigious heritage, and the kitchens that served the nobility and royal courts drew on the fertile local gardens and farms for their dishes. While the Loire would not be famed for a single dish, the best of French cuisine can be found along the length of the valley.
Around Nantes, fish and seafood take centre stage, with platters of fruits de mer and the day’s fresh catch providing the centre piece of meals. Further inland river fish become more common on menus.
All types of meat can be found, Charolais beef, game including guinea fowl and venison, while chicken fricassee d’Anjou must be cooked in the local wine. For pork lovers, Touraine is particularly known for its rillettes and rillons a staple baguette filling, or a delicious starter. For the more daring Andouillette has a strong flavour, somewhat moderated by marinating overnight in Vouvray wine.
We are in the Garden of France, so vegetables and fruit are plentiful. Asparagus season will be over by the time we visit, but carrots, leeks, radishes, artichokes, cherries, plums and quince all feature regularly on menus. There is even an appellation for Mâche Nantaise (lamb’s lettuce grown in Nantes). And our children will never forget being taken to the mushroom caves beneath Saumur when they were small.
Cheese – the Loire region boasts six appellations (out of 48 in France), Crottin de Chavignol in the Upper Loire is a small cylindrical cheese that evolves from firm and fresh to ripe and unctuous. Chabichou du Poitou is also from the upper Loire, and perfect with Sauvignon Blanc wine. Sainte-Maure de Touraine is rolled in ash and tied with hay, while Selles-sur-Cher also coated with ash with a sweet/salty note perfectly complementing Muscadet. Pouligny St. Pierre is a crumbly cheese beautiful with a Rosé d’Anjou, and Pyramide de Valençay, coated in charcoal, is perfect with a fresh Loire red wine.
Puddings are an essential component of any meal, given the dessert wines we will be enjoying. Tarte Tatin dates from 1880s at Hotel Tatin near Orléans, while ‘Nougat de Tours’ was created in the 15th Century – a kind of Bakewell tart with candied fruit. For anyone with room left after dinner, we will be able to finish the evening with a Macarons aux Fruits d’Orléans or, of course, an ice cream.
Wine styles we will encounter.
Sparkling wines have been made in the Loire Valley for as long as they have been made in Champagne, though the ‘Method Traditionelle’ (previously Champenois) was only formally adopted in the appellations for Crémant de la Loire, Saumur-Mousseux, Anjou Mousseux and Vouvray Mousseux and Pétillant in the 20th Century.
Whites are based on the Chenin Blanc grape variety, which produces a more citrussy, floral nose than Chardonnay, with lovely honeyed notes in more mature wines. Rosés are mainly made from Cabernet Franc, with crisp red fruits. A small amount of Pet Nat (single fermentation in bottle) is made.
White wines demonstrate the Loire’s diverse palate of flavours. In Pays Nantais, crisp fresh Muscadet wines are made from Melon de Bourgogne, the best ageing ‘sur lie’, ie on their lees, adding body, weight and flavour.
Neighbouring Savennières produces some of the most complex dry wines in the world – here Chenin Blanc evolves flavours of straw, beeswax and chamomile, while across the river in Coteaux du Layon, the same grape variety produces some of the finest sweet wines in the world – thanks to the development of botrytis in the autumn. Tiny quantities are made because grapes are picked in ‘tries’, individual berries being selected daily according to their ripeness over several weeks – a method imported from Sauternes, whose best wines these rival.
Further upstream, in Vouvray and Montlouis, a similar diversity of styles can be made from Chenin, ranging from Sec (dry) through Sec-Tendre and Demi-Sec to Moelleux (at least 50g/l residual sugar). These wines can age for decades, and we will be tasting older vintages to reveal their amazing freshness and complexity even in older vintages.
The majority of AOC Touraine wines are based on Sauvignon Blanc, they are generally lighter and simpler than the Sauvignons of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, but can be of very high quality, with characteristic gooseberry and grassy flavours. Some spend time in oak, adding richness and complexity.
Rosé wines make up nearly one third of the Loire’s production. Rosé d’Anjou is made principally from Grolleau Noir, a local grape variety with deep colour but low tannins. Often sweet, these wines are moving out of fashion, with increasing amounts of Cabernet d’Anjou now made from Cabernet Franc and its child Cabernet Sauvignon. These can be off dry or even demi-sec, but are increasingly vinified dry, more in line with ‘modern’ tastes, as is Cabernet de Saumur. All rosés can be released as ‘Primeur’ or ‘Nouveau’, like their Beaujolais namesake, released in November and made through carbonic maceration to emphasise fresh, fruity, almost candied flavours.
The majority of red wines are made principally from the Cabernet Franc grape, which originated in Bordeaux (where it was crossed with Sauvignon Blanc to produce Cabernet Sauvignon). It ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon (which is also grown in the Loire), and in the right conditions – sunny sites with free draining sandy chalk or gravel – in areas such as Bourgueil, Chinon and Saumur-Champigny can produce silky elegant wines, with good tannins and acidity, and complex flavours of red and black fruits, spice, pencil shavings and as they evolve, more earthy notes
In Anjou-Saumur and Touraine (and parts of the Pays Nantais) the Gamay grape (of Beaujolais fame) has been grown for centuries (having being banished from Côte d’Or in Burgundy). It produces fresh, fruity, simple wines
More about Tim Syrad Wine Tours
Since 1997 I have escorted over 125 groups of people on wine tours, visiting more than 30 wine regions in Europe and the New World. My clients keep coming back year after year because in addition to tastings and visits we really do meet the people who make the wine and tend the vines.
I pride myself in offering tours that are informative, imaginative and enjoyable. I keep group sizes manageable so that we spend our time appreciating our visits, not getting on and off the bus or queuing for the loos! I personally escort all of my tours, and I ensure as much as possible of the money my clients pay is spent on great food and wine, and good hotels. I believe you can combine appreciating fabulous wine with relaxation and laughter, which is why so many of my clients come on tour with me every year. More than 80 people have come on at least 10 of my tours.
There is a friendly and welcoming atmosphere on every tour from the start, and I am proud that many friendships have been made between the people who come on tour with me.