Loire Valley

The Loire is France’s longest river, flowing east to west and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean.  Like its character, its wines vary enormously, from Sauvignon in the upstream reaches to sweet, dry, and sparkling Chenin and reds from Cabernet Franc in the middle, to huge quantities of Muscadet as it nears the ocean.  Not all its wines have the same cachet as those from Burgundy to the east and Bordeaux to the Southwest, but the prices are generally excellent and the quality seems to improve every year.  Without a doubt, the Loire is a region on the rise.

Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé produce France’s (and likely the world’s) best Sauvignon blanc along the upstream reaches of the river.  The wine is racy and bright here, with a range from bone dry in Sancerre to a touch rounder in neighboring Pouilly Fumé. The fruit predominates and grassiness recedes.  Down the river a bit are reds with Cabernet Franc as the sole or principal grape — a considerable distance both physically and stylistically from Bordeaux, where it plays second fiddle.  We favor Chinon, the most drinkable of the reds in this area. As one nears the mouth the grape changes to Melon de Bourgogne and the appellation to Muscadet.  This wine combines the fruit of honeydew melon with the salinity of the ocean. Here we work with a producer of Cru Muscadet, an extra-intense, age-worthy version of this delicious accompaniment to seafood.


  • Domaine Demois


    Fabien Demois is better known since our last visit a few years ago. Now certified organic and receiving acclaim from several French wine publications, Demois has created a cuvée from his old vines.

  • Domaine des Sanzay


    Sanzay is part of the new Loire Valley wave — small batch, organic, limit oak, concerned with balance and freshness rather than extraction and muscle. Sanzay practices low intervention winemaking — all wild yeasts, no fining or filtering. The resulting wines are complex, natural expressions of the charming central Loire.

  • Frederic Michot


    Michot’s old-vine Pouilly-Fumé is extraordinary. From vines planted in the 1940s — “juste après la guerre,” Madame put it — it was a pure Sauvignon Blanc, of unusual intensity and depth.

  • Garenne


    Clean, classic Sancerres from pure Sauvignon Blanc. Their regular cuvée is grown in clay-limestone soil; “Bouffants” on a particularly favored plot of limetsone, and “Infidele” on only flint.

  • Martin-Luneau


    Muscadet recently elevated three areas to “Cru Communal,” adding aging requirements and geographic restrictions. The result is a new “upper class” of Muscadet, with a richer body and more complexity.

  • Nicolas Paget

    Touraine-Azay le Rideau

    Paget crafts delicious white wines from Chenin Blanc, a grape responsible for the great wines of the central Loire Valley, particularly Vouvray. Paget’s Chenins are much like our favorite Vouvrays, though they come from the less known nearby appellation of Touraine-Azay le Rideau.

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