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Praised for its stately Renaissance-era chateaux, the picturesque Loire valley produces pleasant wines of just about every style. Just south of Paris, the appellation lies along the river of the same name and stretches from the Atlantic coast to the center of France.
The Loire can be divided into three main growing areas, from west to east: the Lower Loire, Middle Loire, and Upper/Central Loire. The Pay Nantais region of the Lower Loire—farthest west and closest to the Atlantic—has a maritime climate and focuses on the Melon de Bourgogne variety, which makes refreshing, crisp, aromatic whites.
The Middle Loire contains Anjou, Saumur and Touraine. In Anjou, Chenin Blanc produces some of, if not the most, outstanding dry and sweet wines with a sleek, mineral edge and characteristics of crisp apple, pear and honeysuckle. Cabernet Franc dominates red and rosé production here, supported often by Grolleau and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sparkling Crémant de Loire is a specialty of Saumur. Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc are common in Touraine as well, along with Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay and Malbec (known locally as Côt).
The Upper Loire, with a warm, continental climate, is Sauvignon Blanc country, home to the world-renowned appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Pinot Noir and Gamay produce bright, easy-drinking red wines here.
Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes Blanc 2017Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre, Loire, France
Chateau de la Ragotiere Muscadet Sur Lie Black Label 2016Melon de Bourgogne from Pays Nantais, Loire, France
Chateau Gaudrelle Vouvray Clos le Vigneau 2016Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, Touraine, Loire, France
Remy Pannier Vouvray 2014Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, Touraine, Loire, France
Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay 2017Chardonnay from Loire, France