The Cher's very dry and lively white wine, Sancerre, is known the world over, but the department is home in fact to five quality certified appellations (AOCs). Not only Sancerre, but also Menetou-Salon, Quincy, Reuilly and the Coteaux du Giennois are located in the region, as well as a charming red wine from the neighboring town of Châteaumeillant, just 17 kilometers from Maison Le Jubeau. While the area's vineyards are mainly known for their robust white wines derived from the sauvignon variety, some of the territory also produces a fruity red wine from the pinot noire grape as well as a "grey" wine, which is actually a light rosé, perfect for sipping on a hot summer evening.
Regional Wine Circuit
The Bureau Interprofessional des Vins du Centre (Interprofessional Committee for the Wines of the Center region) has recently created a new tourist circuit known as the Heart of France Vineyard Route (la Route des Vignobles du Coeur de France), providing the perfect itinerary for exploring the Cher's hillside vineyards and châteaux, discovering the wine cellars of the region's five AOCs (certified appellations) and learning about the cultivation of vines and the wine-making process.
Starting at the Coteaux du Giennois, in the departments of the Nièvre and Loiret, the route follows the lush Loire River down to Sancerre, which offers one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Cher, with vineyards covering some 2500 hectares (6178 acres) extending through fourteen different villages.
The next stop is the vineyard of Menetou-Salon, which covers 450 hectares (1112 acres) where sauvignon and pinot noire grapes grow in a limestone soil that has its origins in the Jurassic period. You'll find the vineyard extending into ten neighboring villages that are home to over 35 domaines.
From Quincy, it's just a short jump over to the Reuilly vineyard which covers 140 hectares (346 acres) stretching between the rivers of Arnon and Cher. Eight villages are encompassed by the vineyard, the origins of which date back to the early 7th Century when Dagobert 1, king of the Franks, gave the fields and vines of Reuilly as a gift to the Abbey of Saint Denis!
Your last stop before returning home will be the Châteaumeillant vineyard that extends through seven villages in the departments of both Cher and Indre. In the 19th Century, the Gamay grape, a variety native to the Beaujolais region, became this vineyard's mainstay. Châteaumeillant is best known for its "grey wine", which requires pressing the Gamay grapes immediately upon harvesting. In 1965 the Châteaumeillant wines earned the VDQS status indicating a wine of superior quality.
Numerous websites can provide you with a great deal of additional information on the Cher's wine-making activities, with an especially detailed site, complete with English version, located at www.vins-centre-loire.com. This site contains an invaluable listing of all the domaines in the region, with names, addresses, and phone numbers, an increasing number of websites and information on opening hours, tour scheduling, etc. The direct link is http://www.vins-centre-loire.com/caves-producteurs/.
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