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.