The Thing About The Loire

The copyright date is twenty years old, but the intro to the Loire chapter feels current. The book, purchased as a study guide for the somm exam in 2004, is Jancis Robinson's Wine Course (Third Edition.) The section starts out, "Outside northern France, the wines of the Loire, with the exception of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, have been consistently overlooked by modern wine enthusiast..."

The more things change, the more the stay the same.

Walk into any local retailer and ask to see the Loire wines. Chances are you'll either get a puzzled look, or be shown to a couple of Sancerres, the region's famous (and correspondingly priced) sauvignon blanc, or a Chinon or two, the lean cabernet franc-based wines from the sub-region of the same name. But if you're lucky (and/or happen to be in a metropolitan market with more adventuresome distribution,) whatever other Loire bottlings are probably worth of your experimentation budget.

That recent piece about finding value in the shadows of notoriety tries to make the case for adjacency. The Loire, hardly famous in the landscape of top global winegrowing regions, itself has plenty of shadows. This summertime discovery  is a celebration of oddity - pinot noir grown close to the mouth of the Loire river, some 700 kilometers from the heart of Burgundy - and represents the epitome of gems hiding in those shadows. At a certain point in one's wine-drinking evolution, there's no more exciting place.

Jason Wilson over at Everyday Drinking is a huge fan of the wines from this region, and his waxing about the reds from the Loire make a compelling case to hop a plane, stat. But while the depth of Jason's recommendations are indeed deep (and perhaps pricey for the frugal amongst us,) there are plenty of values as well. 

To wit, the 2021 Domaine du Haut Perron Touraine Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($13) is bright, vibrant, crisp, energetic, precise, and irresistible. You can get it from WTSO, but if that's not your thing, don't let that stop you from asking your favorite retailer for anything from the Loire. Muscadets, declassified sauvignon blancs, Saumurs, Anjous...almost any wine from the region will yield a lower alcohol/higher acidity joy ride at a discount.

Happy hunting and happy drinking.