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This is a wonderful albeit very complex wine region to get a grip on, but is worth it once all the confusion is settled.  There are some excellent bargains for some very interesting wines, particularly from the top white wine producers.

Centered around the Loire holy town of Angers, many styles of wines are made here including red, white, sparkling and desert wines from grapes as wacky as Grolleau and as mainstream as Chenin Blanc. Some of the more famous desert wine areas such as Coteaux du Layon, Quarts de Chaume, Coteaux l'Aubance and Bonnezeaux have their own AOC's and even Savennieres, a dry white AOC has its own appellation within Anjou. 

Anjou Blanc can be very very good but you have to pick carefully as this is a vague AOC. Schist is by far the most important soil type for successful Anjou Blanc to be vinified. The two top producers of this style of Chenin Blanc are Marc Angeli (Domaine de la Sanssoniere) and Claude Papin (Chateau Pierre Bise). Angeli actually makes dry Bonnezeaux, which is a sweet wine appellation within Anjou, and can only be labeled Anjou Blanc because of all the AOC laws. The "La Lune" is a particularly satisfying wine that almost smells sweet but remains unequivocally dry.  It can be very interesting in good years.  Cellaring can be a risk because the wines can go into funky periods where they are almost undrinkable.  Richard Leroy has also started to make very racy Anjou Blanc as his favorite wine region in the world is the Mosel. The Pierre Bise Anjou Blancs are exceptionally minerally and austere and need hours and sometimes days to open up but are worth the search and then the wait.

For red wines, Cabernet Franc can do very well in the right hands. There is also a red wine AOC called Anjou-Villages Brissac which is considered the best area for reds in Anjou.  I have never had a successful one as the ones that I have sampled have been too green and/or tannic. Gamay is also grown here and of course, has its own appellation called Anjou Gamay. I have never had or seen one in the States but can only assume it is a light local wine. Anjou-Villages is the all encompassing appellation that is for "serious" reds and although I have had exceptional ones from the estate of Claude Papin (Pierre Bise), most are forgettable. 

There are some appellations given AOC status that do not deserve it all. Rose d'Anjou is a ghastly beverage that is typically made from Grolleau and is usually terrible. Light and mildly sweet with a watered down quality these should be avoided at all costs. There is also rose made from Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc grapes. This is called Cabernet d'Anjou and this is also mostly forgettable and can be too sweet a lot of the time.

Most of these wines can be had for between $15 to $50 (for Richard Leroy high-end cuvee and high end Angeli cuvee)

Notable Recent Vintages: 2010, 2009, 2005, 2003, 2002, 1997

The picture is of Richard Leroy pouring at La Dive Bouteille in 2008. 

Top producers of Anjou (in no particular order) include:
  • Marc Angeli (Domaine de la Sansonniere)
  • Pierre Bise (Claude Papin)
  • Richard Leroy
  • Jo Pithon
  • Pierre-Yves Tijou (Chateau Soucherie)
  • Domaine de Montgilet (Anjou-Villages Brissac is quite toothsome)
  • Domaine des Sablonettes
  • Patrick Baudoin
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