The hallmarks of Coteaux du Giennois are light-bodied, fruity and crisp, dry white wines. However, dry rosé is also produced on the appellation’s 179 hectares (442 acres).
Northeast of Sancerre, on the banks of the Loire River, Coteaux du Giennois is in the departments of Nièvre and Loiret. This appellation stretches over fourteen villages:
Beaulieu, Bonny, Gien, Briare, Ousson, Thou, Alligny, La-Celle-sur-Loire, Cosne-cours-sur-Loire, Myennes, Neuvy, Pougny, Saint-Loup and Saint-Père. The limestone soil is characteristically flinty.
Grape seeds found in archaeological digs in Cosne-sur-Loire date to the 2nd century. It was in 849 that King Charles le Chauve (the Bald) confirmed a donation of vines and property made by the Bishop of Auxerre to the college of the Church of Saint-Laurent in Cosne. Records from 1218 show that wines from the Giennois vineyards were purchased by the Royal Court of King Philippe II Auguste in Paris. The castle of Cosne was built between 1254 and 1262 by the Bishop of Auxerre, which included vineyards, as well as a vast wine cellar. In January 1566, Charles IX and his mother, Catherine de Médicis, stopped in Cosne, where they were offered bottles of the finest local wines.
The building of numerous abbeys in the region contributed greatly to the increase in the number of vineyards. The Cistercian Abbey of Roche in Myennes and the Commandery of the Templars were particularly influential. Around this time, Coteaux du Giennois vines were also cultivated farther down the Loire River, in the vineyards of the famous Fleury Abbey in St-Benoit-sur-Loire.
The grapevines are planted in flinty or calcareous soil along the hillsides of the Loire. There are also old terraces on the Loire at Gien and extensions of the Sancerrois and Pouilly geological formations, mostly limestone to the east of the Cosne Fault and siliceous to the west with deposits of flint dating from the Tertiary Period.
The “Vendanges” (grape harvest) in Centre-Loire begin between the last week of September and the first week of October, ending the last two weeks of October. Some grapes are still harvested by hand, particularly red grapes, though most are picked with mechanical grape harvesters. The grapes are sent to the modern wine storehouses for processing. In the Centre-Loire, three winemaking methods are employed.
White Coteaux du Giennois wines present notes of minerals, quince and white flowers. The reds are elegant and fruity, with hints of dark and red berries plus subtle peppery flavours. They are delicate, delivering aromas of vineyard peach.
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