Loupiac is a sweet white wine appellation of the Bordeaux region, covering wines made in an area on the northern bank of the Garonne river, 18 miles (30km) south-east of Bordeaux city. Loupiac is in the heartland of Bordeaux's sweet white wine production, located between Cadillac and Sainte-Croix-du-Mont and just across the river from the prestigious Sauternes and Barsac titles.
© Wikimedia/Henry Salomé
Geographically speaking, Loupiac is a logical part of the Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux appellation. However, like Cadillac and Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, it stands out as an independent appellation because of its capacity to produce sweet wines of high quality.
The best of Loupiac's wines are made from grapes grown on the slopes above the banks of the Garonne. These slopes are composed of a mixture of clay and limestone, which brings a delicate, mineral character to the wines. Being located close to the river is also of great benefit because it increases the likelihood of night-time and morning mists, which encourage the all-important botrytis to develop.
Under Loupiac's appellation laws, the grape varieties that may be used are Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris. The first two are the most commonly employed by far. The grapes must be grown in vineyards where the planting density is at least 5000 plants per hectare (2024 per acre), and may be picked only when their must weight reaches specified levels. These are 245g/L for Semillon and 229g/L for other varieties. These rules are more stringent than in Sauternes (where the required figure is only 221g/L for all grape varieties) and lead to a higher level of residual sugar in the finished wines. Chaptalization is permitted in Loupiac, but only to a limited extent in poor vintages. This enrichment process increases only the potential alcohol content and not the complexity of a wine, so it is generally a last resort.
As with the other sweet wine appellations, Loupiac's winemakers are increasingly using barrel fermentation and ageing to add complexity to their wines.