With two AOC wine appellations, Auvergne has a lot to offer for wine enthusiasts. The wines of Saint-Pourçain and Côtes d’Auvergne earned AOC status in 2009 and 2010 respectively. These regal wines were once a favorite of kings, sent up the rivers of central France to the capital. Today, thanks to young winemakers, modern techniques and a push for high quality wine, the appellations are returning to their glorious past.
Saint-Pourçain wine can be traced back to Gallo-roman times, while Côtes d’Auvergne was first mentioned in the 5th century. Both wines enjoyed a place on the tables of the kings of France, and Saint-Pourçain was a favorite of the popes in Avignon. The ports of Auvergne along the Allier River sent a shipload a day to the capital in the 18th century, but the arrival of the railroad brought competition from Bordeaux and Bourgogne.
Named for the town of Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, between Vichy and Moulins, the wines of this appellation are considered by some as an extension of the Loire Valley wines. With 640 hectares of vineyards spread over 19 towns, Saint-Pourçain wine is grown in diverse soils: siliceous, clay-limestone, or sandy gravel. The white wines contain at least 90% Chardonnay and Tressalier grapes (a local variety of Sacy); Sauvignon is also sometimes included. Red wines are made with Gamay and Pinot Noir, and rosé exclusively with the Gamay varietal.
Characterised by its proximity to the Chaîne des Puys volcanic mountain range, the vineyards of the Côtes d’Auvergne benefit not only from rich, volcanic soil, but also from the Foehn effect, protecting the area from rain. In addition to the Côtes d’Auvergne name, the 800 hectares of the vineyard includes five appellations, running north to south along the Limagne Plain: Madargue, Châteaugay, Chanturgue, Corent and Boudes. White Côtes d’Auvergne wines are made exclusively with Chardonnay grapes, while Gamay is used in the rosé and red wines, combined with Pinot Noir for the latter.
Discover the winemaking heritage of the Côtes d’Auvergne. Visit the wine museum in Aubière, housed in a former wine cellar. The village of Montpeyroux, one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, also has a rich winemaking past. The boutique of the cooperative winery, the Cave Saint Verny also offers tastings and visits.