Appellation: Saumur Champigny
Saumur-Champignyis a red wine appellation within the larger appellation of Saumur. These rich red wines have seen a tremendous growth in popularity in recent years. They are made from Cabernet Franc, but this may be blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Pineau d'Aunis, a grape unique to the Loire Valley. The vineyards sit atop the tuffeau cliffs on the south bank of the Loire just outside the city of Saumur. The name Champigny is said to derive from Campus Igni, which is Latin for “field of fire” and is said to refer to the ability of the tuffeau soil to retain heat and, therefore, making the grapes ripen earlier than in than the surrounding area. The soils also yield softer, rounder and less rustic wines than the famous red wines of Touraine.
What's In A Name?
Long before the concept of varietals had been invented (and when the same grape often had many different names), French winegrowers and wine makers had discovered that wines from one village or vineyard were very different from wines from the neighboring village or hillside. This is why French wines (including those of the Loire Valley) are identified by “appellations” or place names rather than by the grapes from which they are made. The words Appellations d’Origine Controlee, or the letters AOC on a label indicate that a wine is made in accordance with strict regulations that allow the producer to use the appellation.