There are 48 kinds of cheese in France with the protected AOC status – and six of them are in the Loire Valley. They go quite well with local wines, and all of them are goat cheeses.
- Valençay cheese with red Sancerre
- Crottin de Chavignol with a crisp white Quincy wine
- Chabichou du Poitou Try a Pouilly Fumé
- Pouligny St. Pierre with Rosé d’Anjou
- Selles-sur-Cher with Muscadet
- Sainte-Maure de Touraine with red Chinon
When you visit the Loire Valley, France, enjoy the region’s famous cheeses.
Nearly 1300 years ago, when the Arabs were defeated at the famous Battle of Tours in 732 by Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, they left their goats in this region! This is how goat cheese was born, from an unlikely souvenir of the Arab settlers.
Most French meals end with a choice of cheeses, and three is the usual selection. So you may want to add to Loire Valley goat cheeses, by including a soft Brie or Camembert, and for contrast, a pressed farmhouse cheese, such as a Cantal, similar to Cheddar. Here are some suggestions for wines to accompany your cheese course. These wines are not expensive, mostly under $20 per bottle.
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Loire Valley Goat Cheeses by Region, and Wines to Pair With Them
- Valençay cheese (AOC 1998), is a world-class cheese that is served in prestigious restaurants.
- It has an unusual truncated pyramid shape. (Napoleon is said to have lopped off the top of a Valençay because the shape reminded him of his defeat in Egypt!) It has a unique rather nutty flavor when mature.
- A good Loire Valley pairing is a red Sancerre, made from Pinot Noir grapes, but perhaps not as full-bodied as a red Burgundy.
- Crottin de Chavignol (AOC 1976), shaped like a small cylinder, a common and much appreciated Loire Valley goat cheese.
- It has a mild, balanced flavor, neither sweet nor sour, and pairs well with a crisp white Quincy wine. First noted in 1120, these wines, made from both Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris grapes, are delicate and citrusy.
- Chabichou du Poitou (AOC 1990) has a delicate, slightly sweetish flavor.
- Try a Pouilly Fumé, made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Some say they have been first grown in this very region. It is a dry white wine not to be confused with the white Burgundy made from Chardonnay grapes, Pouilly Fuissé.
- Pouligny St. Pierre (AOC 1972) is moist and rather crumbly.
- You won’t be able to resist it with fresh French bread and a dab of Normandy butter.
- Try it with a Rosé d’Anjou wine? This is a refreshing combination.
- Selles-sur-Cher (AOC 1975) melts in the mouth, with a touch of sweetness, and an underlying salty note.
- A fresh, crisp wine, perhaps a white Muscadet sur lie, is refreshing and rather neutral. It’s the perfect foil for more assertive foods. (It also goes perfectly with Eastern Shore foods such as crabs.)
- Sainte-Maure de Touraine (AOC 1990) is a balanced cheese that is best when well-aged.
- Enjoy it with a glass of red Chinon wine, made from Cabernet Franc grapes. Local producers are proud of this grape, which is also the base of many fine Bordeaux wines.
Another no-fail option: Saumur Mousseux, a white sparkler made from Chenin Blanc grapes. This is a flavorful wine produced according to a champagne process which the makers are forbidden to call as such since they are not in the Champagne region. Enjoy a glass – we’ll never tell!