Coteaux d’Ancenis AOC is a still wine of all three colours from around the commune of Ancenis in the Anjou district of the Loire Valley. The area was granted VDQS status in 1954. It became an AOC in 2011. The AOC occupies land on both banks of the Loire, halfway between the cities of Nantes and Angers in the departments of Loire-Atlantique and Maine-et-Loire listed below. Mainly red and and rosé wines are made. 

History: Winegrowing here dates to ancient times and was expanded from the 11th century, with the development of many priories along the Loire. The tithes paid on the products of the vine attest to an intense viticultural activity on the banks of the river in the Middle Ages. Quickly, the port of Ancenis played a central role in the trade and transport of wines from the region. Thus, in 1573, Charles IX authorized the creation of four offices of gourmet wine brokers in the port of Ancenis, offices which were increased to ten in 1584, and under Louis XVI, the city regularly had around twenty boats involved in the wine trade.

From the 17th century, the Ancenis vineyard increased its production of sweet white wines with the introduction of the Pinot Gris Ggrape. The resulting wine gradually took the name “Malvoisie”. The other grape varieties appear later, such as the Gamay N grape introduced in the middle of the 19th century. The wine trade then knew its peak, the wines being shipped to Paris via Orleans or for Northern Europe and Brittany, by the place of Nantes.

After the phylloxera crisis, the vineyard was rebuilt and definitively adopts the grape varieties and the methods of management which are still in force today, in particular planting densities ranging between from 6,000–7,000 vine per hectare. The production of dry rosé wines and red wines becames predominant over the sweet white “Malvoisie” wines (see below). In 1907 Anceni Winegrowers’ Syndicate was founded. The production rules, set by producers after the Second World War, saw Coteaux d’Ancenis became a VDQS in 1954.

With a geographical area located at the interface between the Nantes and Angevin vineyards, on the edge of the important communication route that constitutes the Loire, the producers of the “Coteaux d’Ancenis” have been able to take advantage of this double influence to establish technical production routes adapted to their natural environment.

Communes (27): Department of Loire-Atlantique: Ancenis, Carquefou, Le Cellier, Couffé, Divatte-sur-Loire (for the sole territory of the delegated municipality of Barbechat), Ligné, Loireauxence (for the sole territory of the delegated municipality of Varades), Mauves-sur-Loire, Mésanger, Montrelais, Oudon, Saint-Géréon, Thouaré-sur-Loire, Vair-sur-Loire. Department of Maine-et-Loire: Mauges-sur-Loire (for the sole territory of the delegated municipality of La Chapelle-Saint-Florent), Orée d’Anjou (for the sole territory of the delegated municipalities of Bouzillé, Champtoceaux, Drain, Landemont, Liré and La Varenne).

Vineyard area & wine production1988 290 hectares (716 acres) producing 21,335hl of red and rosé wine, and 110hl of white wine (Clive Coates MW: 1990, p.238-9). | 2009 180 hectares. 30 producers. Average production of over 10,000hl of which  45% vins rosés, 38% red wined and 17% white wine (Cahier des charges, 2019).

Terroir: The vines are established mainly on the hillsides which directly face the river Loire, sometimes also on the slopes of secondary valleys. They are staged on the slopes, at altitudes most often between 20 meters and 80 meters, and are clearly distinguished in the landscape compared to the surrounding plateaus, oriented towards polyculture-livestock activities.

Production area: This comprises a small zone between between Nantes and Angers, centred around the historic town of Ancenis, where the Duchy of Brittany signed away its independence to France in 1468. Half the delimited area lies on the south bank of the Loire in the Maine-et-Loire (49) department while the remainder on the north side lies in Loire-Atlantique (44) department (Clive Coates MW: 1990, p.238-9).

Anjou or Pays Nantais?: Although officially the Coteaux d’Ancenis is an Anjou wine, Clive Coates (1990, p.238-9) says it would be more logical to consider it as part of the Pay Nantais or Muscadet because most of the land is also authorized for making Muscadet des Coteaux de la Loire, as well as Gros Plant du Pays Nantais. However the reason Coteaux d’Ancenis was considered and Anjou wines, Coates says, is ‘because it is mainly [produced as] a red or rosé wine, which no Nantais wine, whether appellation contrôlée or VDQS (except for Fiefs Vendeéns), can be.’ The grapes authorised are those used for other Anjou wines.

Soil: The vineyards lie on the ancient metamorphic hill formations of the Armorican Massif, composed mainly of schists, mica schists and gneiss. These hard rocks gave birth to siliceous and often stony soils, very shallow on the slopes, once subjected to the erosion of the Loire. These soils drain and re-heat quickly. Poor and acidic, these soils are particularly suitable for the Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc grape variety, limiting its often high vigour. This explains that although it arrived here relatively late, it supplanted the existing red varieties.

Climate: Temperate oceanic climate, the Loire helping to convey maritime influence towards the interior of the land, the more so as, in the region of Ancenis, the river experiences the same orientation as the prevailing winds. The average annual temperature is around 11.5 ° C, with mild winters and cool summers. Rainfall, of around 700mm annually is well distributed throughout the year with, however, a marked water deficit in summer. The geographic area often experiences a windy and dry period in early autumn, before the great tides of the equinox.

White wines

Coteaux d’Ancenis AOC Blanc or Blanc Malvoisie AOC: A medium sweet white with 20-40g/l residual sugar made from 100% Pinot Gris, although locals claim this is the ‘Malvoisie’ found in the Malmsey of Madeira’ (Clive Coates MW: 1990, p.238-9). Hence some producers label the wine as Coteaux d’Ancenis AOC Blanc Malvoisie’.

Coteaux d’Ancenis AOC Rosé: Mainly Gamay, plus Cabernet Franc. Residual sugar: 0-4g/l.

Coteaux d’Ancenis AOC Cabernet Rouge: Mainly Gamay plus Cabernet Franc. Residual sugar: 0-3g/l.

Wineries

No certification: Les Champs Jumeaux.

Bibliography

Oxford Companion to Wine 4th edition ed. Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW (Oxford University Press, 2015), p.4.

Cahier des charges de l’appellation d’origine contrôlée Coteaux d’Ancenis 2019.