France’s Loire Valley produces the greatest variety of wines of any wine region in the world. This month’s Buying Guide highlights just some of the region’s many white-wine styles, including the refreshing and bone-dry selections of Muscadet, luscious Chenin Blanc-based wines of Vouvray and, of course, pungent Sauvignon Blancs from the variety’s original homes of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.
Even in their amazing diversity, these wines do have some things in common. In a world that’s demanding light, fruity wines, these typically fit the bill perfectly. There’s rarely anything in excess in the Loire—crisp acidity is a stylish element in the whites, and overall balance is key, with alcohol levels that rarely exceed 13.5 percent.
Perhaps as importantly, the wines reflect the natural and cultural landscapes. The Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the last great natural rivers of Europe, and a home to wildlife that’s as varied as the wines. The Loire is where classic French cooking started, introduced by Catherine de Medici from Italy in the 16th century. It’s easy to eat well in the Loire’s many restaurants or at home with recipes that originate from this beautiful, castle-dotted region, thanks to a plump cuisine based around butter sauces. You’re also certain to find the perfect wine pairing for any dish, thanks to the area’s natural diversity of wine styles.
With so many natural advantages for wine drinkers, it’s time for the Loire to get the star billing it deserves. The wines are delicious and refreshing, especially for drinking during the summ months, and are ideal candidates for supplementing your wine cellar while satisfying many palates.
Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu
Domaine de l’Aujardière 2013 La Noë Sur Lie (Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu); $18, 91 points.
Domaine du Haut Bourg 2003 Origine du Haut Bourg (Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu); $20, 91
Domaine les Hautes Noëlles 2013 Les Granges Sur Lie (Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu); $18, 88
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
Bonnet-Huteau 2010 Goulaine Vieilles Vignes (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $NA, 93 points.
Domaine de l’Ecu 2013 Granite (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $23, 93 points. Editors’ Choice.
Domaine Claude Branger 2013 Terroir les Gras Moutons Sur Lie (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $17,
92 points. Editors’ Choice.
Domaines Landron 2013 Les Houx Sur Lie (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $16, 92 points. Editors’
Domaine de la Pepière 2010 Cuvée 4 (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $20, 91 points. Editors’ Choice.
Domaine Luneau-Papin 2013 Clos des Allées Sur Lie (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $20, 91
points. Editors’ Choice.
Gadais Père et Fils 2013 Vieilles Vignes Sur Lie (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $18, 91
points. Editors’ Choice.
Lieubeau 2010 Château-Thébaud (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); 91 points, $28. Editors’ Choice.
Bonnet-Huteau 2013 Les Gautronnières Sur Lie (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $15, 90 points. Best
Bruno Cormerais 2012 Chambaudière Sur Lie (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $10, 90 points. Best