Wines of the Loire
When the grapes get enough heat and sunlight to ripen, the cool climate gives the wines of the Loire their elegance and haunting precision. In great years the best wines can have such dramatic tension they seemed poised on a tightrope. In French, their refreshing vigor is described as nervosité.
--from Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible
The Loire: The Basics
Where: A valley surrounding the Loire River, France’s longest, in the Northwest of France.
What: While the Loire is best known for refreshing, acidic white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, red, rosé, sparkling, and both sweet and dry white wines are all produced.
What makes it notable: Loire wines are all about expressing the purity of the varietal. Both Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc are thought to find their purest expressions here. Blends of multiple grape varietals are rare (except in sparkling wines), and wine-making tends to be minimalist, e.g oak aging is uncommon. The cool northern climate creates zesty and focussed wines of light to medium body.
Well-known appellations: Whites: Muscadet (made from Melon Blanc), Vouvray and Savennières (made from Chenin Blanc), Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé (made from Sauvignon Blanc); Reds: Chinon (made from Cabernet Franc), Anjou (made with Gamay); Sparkling: Crèmant de Loire.