The Loire Valley is known for white wines, from brisk Muscadets made with grapes grown along the cold Atlantic coast to zesty Sauvignon Blancs and luscious Chenin Blancs from appellations farther inland, such as Sancerre and Vouvray.

The Loire Valley

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Regardless of grape variety or even color (the Loire Valley also makes very good reds, mostly from Cabernet Franc), the Loire Valley region's primarily cool climate leads to wines with refreshing acidity and bright flavors.

Loire Valley: Main Varietals

White Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne
Red Wines: Cabernet Franc, Cot (Malbec)

Loire Valley: River Rules

The Loire is the longest river in France, and the appellations that stretch along it, from the Atlantic Coast to the center of the country, produce more white wine than any other region in France.

Loire Valley Values

Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are known as benchmark Sauvignon Blanc regions, but other parts of the Loire produce top-quality Sauvignon Blanc, too—often at lower prices. Look for the Cheverny, Menetou-Salon, Quincy and Touraine appellations.

2010 Domaine des Huards Cheverny ($15) A flinty blend of Sauvignon Blanc with 15 percent Chardonnay, this white comes from biodynamically farmed vineyards.

2010 Domaine des Corbillières ($15) The sandy-clay soil of the Sologne region helps give this wine its crisp minerality.

2010 J. F. Merieau L'Arpents des Vaudons ($15) A single block of 60-year-old vines provides the grapes for this complex and richly flavorful Sauvignon Blanc.

2010 Domaine Joël Delaunay Le Bois Martin Touraine ($15) An estate on the banks of the Cher River makes this grapefruity white.

2010 Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc ($17) Jolivet, known for his Sancerre, uses grapes from the broad Loire Valley appellation for this zesty white.

2010 Domaine Jean-Claude Roux Quincy ($21) Jean-Claude Roux's 2010 has the smokiness of a Pouilly-Fumé, together with zippy citrus fruit flavors.

Pairings & Recipes for Loire Valley White Wines:

Cavatelli with Mussels, Lillet and Dill. Photo © Quentin Bacon
Credit: © Quentin Bacon
Sauvignon Blanc: Goes with tart dressings and sauces
Penne with Veal Ragù