Appellations, Terroirs & History

French Words


‘Appellation’ is a French word that has no direct translation into English, but it refers to the name of a geographical area and the types of wines that are made from it. It is the name of the Terroir.
Every appellation produces wines of distinct character, because of a fusion of many elements unique to that area. These elements include:
– Local tradition
– The soils and climate
– One or more grape varieties
– Geographic area
– The know-how of man
As a result, wines from one appellation in the Loire Valley will have a character that is distinct from that of another appellation.


‘Terroir’ is another French word referring to the cultivation of vines and wines. It means a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, that belong to a specific appellation, sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine-making traditions, which make up the particular character of the wines.

What’s the difference?

A wine gets its appellation mainly because it was grown from a particular terroir.

Touraine Wines

Many of the wines available through are of the Touraine appellation. Vines have been in the Touraine region since the 2 nd Century, as evidenced by the names of many local villages such as Vineuil (near Blois). The church had a great deal of interest in the cultivation of vines – after all, the monks had plenty of spare time on their hands!
The proximity of large, navigable rivers contributed to the continued development of vineyards in the Touraine appellation. A commercial flow was in place by the 11 th Century downriver from Blois to Tours and Nantes. In 1577 a Bill of Parliament was passed in Paris to forbid tavern keepers, inn keepers, and wine merchants from getting their wines from vineyards situated less than 20 leagues (88kms) from the capital – this proved very profitable for the Touraine region, which became one of the leading wine suppliers to Paris and its suburbs via the Loire and Cher rivers.

By the start of the 20th Century, there was a surfeit of wine being produced in Touraine and France as a whole, and vineyards all over the country had to reduce the planted areas of vines considerably. Salvation can only come from quality, and many unsuitable vineyards were abandoned. The Touraine Appellation was recognised in 1939.

Sometimes, you taste a wine and all you can taste is the flavour of the oak. This is generally known as “over-oaked” wine. Such a shame! It should never be so obvious. It should be just a slight “support” to enhance the flavour of the fruit.

In actual fact, the tradition of storing wine in oak barrels has nothing to do with flavouring, and everything to do with transportation. It was simply how wine was moved from one place to another in the days of old.
The tradition of storing wines in oak barrels would date back to the Middle Ages when the monasteries were very active in making the very best wines they could. They all vied with each other to have better wines than their neighbours’ and they were fiercely jealous if another monastery made better wines than theirs.

Wine was not stored in oak barrels locally. In fact, during some excavations in the cellars of the Château of Chaumont some years ago, archaeologists discovered wine tanks hewn out of stone and lined with thick glass tiles. Hence the tradition to age in the bottle!

All of the wines available on this website are unoaked, in the traditional manner of wines from the Loire Valley.