Let's explore the Loire Valley, shall we? To toast to a few new additions, and welcome back some of our classics in our Loire portfolio, we turned to Katie Melchior of @frenchwinetutor to help guide us through this iconic wine region of France. Pour yourself a glass and join us as we go on a journey through the "Garden of France!"
Imagine you board a ship heading westward from Paris. It’s early morning when you depart, so you rest in the quiet belly of the hull. When you awake sometime later and head to deck, the sight that greets you is as shocking as it is magnificent. It’s a lush, green countryside dotted with renaissance castles, UNESCO heritage sights, forests, farms, and vineyards as far as the eye can see. They don’t call it the Garden of France without reason. This is the Loire Valley.
Home to kings, legends, unmatched natural beauty, and a diversity of wines not arguably found elsewhere in France, the Loire Valley is unlike any other wine region on earth. It is home to over 70 appellations, more than 20 grape varieties (many of which are native to the region and internationally renowned), and makes white, rosé and red wines in all major wine styles. It offers everything from fresh, fruit-forward wines to age-worthy vins de garde. Separated into three distinct subregions, it is one of France’s oldest and most revered wine regions. After all, this is the birthplace of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc and the true home of Melon de Bourgogne.
From Nantes to Sancerre, from Kimmeridgian marl to silty soils, the 90+ Cellars Loire Valley portfolio truly has something for everyone. Ready for a wine adventure you’ll remember? On y va !
MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE SUR LIE
Let’s start all the way on the western fringes of the region, just outside of Nantes. This is the home of Muscadet, a zippy and refreshing white wine made from a local grape variety known colloquially as Melon B (full name: Melon de Bourgogne). A fantastic pairing for oysters and shellfish, 90+ Cellars Lot 170 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine is a great example of the category. Bring it to your next summer seafood feast and you’ll be everyone’s favorite person at the party!
The Loire Valley’s white wines may have put it on the international wine map, but the reds are among France’s most sought-after expressions of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Malbec. The beautiful wines of Bourgueil certainly fall into this category, offering stunning expressions of the Cabernet Franc grape (known locally as Cabernet Breton). 90+ Cellars Lot 209 Bourgueil shows great balance between dark cherry and raspberry notes and earthiness. If you don’t think red wines can be a hit for summer, think again! This one is chillable and a great match for many BBQ favorites.
If you haven’t yet tried Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley, you’re missing out! Vouvray is one of this grape’s most stunning examples. 90+ Cellars Lot 208 Vourvray is refreshing and bursting with white floral and citrus aromas. This is an ideal wine to pair with some of the Loire Valley’s most famous goat cheeses like Valençay, Bûcherondin, Chabichou de Poitou, and Selles-sur-Cher. Both cheeses and wine alike have a stunning minerality and acidity that will perfectly complement one another and your palate.
Popularized stateside after American soldiers returned from postings in and around Sancerre during World War II, this appellation is one of the Loire Valley’s most famous and influential. Sancerre can be either white (from Sauvignon Blanc) or red (from Pinot Noir) wine. Either way, its characteristic minerality shines through no matter which grape the producer is using. 90+ Cellars Lot 126 Sancerre is truly a steal for the quality!
Did you know? Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre are neighbors! Less than 30 kilometers from each other, they share many common wine characteristics. Yet, the wines from Pouilly-Fumé are often characterized as having a “smoky” or “gunpowder” character, which is why the French word “fumé”, meaning “smoked”, is a part of the name. Pouilly-Fumé is one of my favorite Loire Valley appellations for this reason. 90+ Cellars Lot 171 Pouilly-Fumé offers a complex wine that’s full of citrus, florals, and the aforementioned smoky minerality. This is definitely a show-stopping crowd pleaser!
While the Loire Valley boasts over 50 other appellations to try, these five are the classics and the perfect place to start if you’re just exploring what the region has to offer. Invite your friends over for a Loire Valley wine and cheese party this summer and they certainly won’t go home disappointed!