Most people are aware that Normandy is famous for cider, but not so many know that it was once also a major wine producing region. Wine used to be produced throughout Normandy until the reign of Louis XIII when, because of taxes on wine, the vineyards in Normandy were nearly all pulled up and the cultivation of apples developed and improved.
However, wine production on a small scale continues to this day.
For instance, just a few miles north of us in the Orne is the vignoble of Hanaps. So well known is this particular winegrowing denomination that I lived here 5 years before I found out about it.
The tiny Hanaps vignoble is in the area around the small Normandy town of Vingt-Hanaps. An association has been formed to promote the wine and they are beginning work on a cave for storing the wine on the site of the principal domaine in 2009.
A short distance to the south of us are two better known AOC regions in the Sarthe – Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir. This wine growing region (sometimes called “Touraine”, after Tours) lies just south of Le Mans along the Loir river (without an “e”) and is highly regarded, though not well-known in the UK.
Jasnières are white wines produced from Chenin Blanc (also known as Pineau de la Loire) – floral and fruity, with a hint of honey. It is the northernmost of the Loire wine producing regions, lying between Tours and Le Mans. There are approximately 20 producers of Jasnières wine.
Coteaux du Loir are mainly reds made from Pineau d’Aunis, Cabernet, Côt and Gamay, plus some rosés with the addition of up to 25% Grolleau – they are all light and aromatic wines.