Hillsides mean exposure to the elements … and usually wine-growing soil. As for La Charité, it was quickly realised that the western-facing higher ground around the Loire was suitable for viticulture as early as the Middle Ages.
The wine of the Benedictine monks was far from being a classic mass wine, and while the vineyards were being developed in the 14th century, this blessed beverage was often found on rich tables near and far. Good year or bad, wine has become more than just a drink; it’s part of our heritage.
But phylloxera destroyed everything in the 1880s, ruining winemakers and their wine dreams. A few vines were planted from other places, but more often than not, these micro-plots were only sufficient for personal consumption. A glass of red with friends during a break in digging.
In 1980, a small group of gentlemen from the vines decided that La Charité’s vineyards should be revived by creating a wine union. Definitely inspired by Bacchus, they would replant vines by changing the situation somewhat, or rather, the centre of activity would be moved east of La Charité, mainly around the towns of Nannay, Chasnay and La Celle-sur-Nièvre. The grape variety changed as well, becoming “Burgundy-ised”. From sauvignon, they switched to chardonnay for white and pinot noir for red (90% of the growing area). From this new alchemy was born in 1986: the “coteau charitois” (hillsides of La Charité). In 2011, it changed its name to “Les Côtes de La Charité” (slopes of La Charité).
Currently, “our wines stand out for their variety, their distinctiveness, their aromatic complexity” (words of a winemaker of the vintage). You can choose between white wine, red wine, “grey” and rosé wine and even sparkling wines. All information on the “Côtes de La Charité” website.
You can taste the Côtes de La Charité on the tables of local restaurants or go directly to the estates of the winemakers who will be happy to open the doors of their cellars for you. Another way to discover the region’s wine: wine tours by Vinitour Centre-Loire, which tell you all about the vineyard from vine to wine.