Every time we hold our Loire Valley sale, Astor is packed with happy customers – because so many grapes find their absolute best expression in the Loire Valley. South African Chenin Blanc is evaluated against Vouvray and Savennières; Sauvignon Blanc the world over is inevitably compared to Sancerre; and New York Cabernet Franc must compete with the grape’s benchmark bottlings from Chinon.
To get an in-depth introduction to Loire wines (complete with samples), sign up for our Loire Valley Wines class!
For now, simply scroll down for a bit of background info and head to today’s sale.
A Few of Our Favorite Loire Wines
Muscadet: Produced in some of the coolest climates in the Loire, Muscadet is a bracingly dry, seafood-friendly white wine. Made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape (which is rarely found anywhere else in the world), these refreshing whites are ideal partners for oysters and mussels.
Anjou and Saumur: Here in the heart of the Loire Valley, most white wines are based on Chenin Blanc, while most reds and rosés are based on Cabernet Franc. Saumur is particularly famous for its delicious sparkling wines, both dry and off-dry. The rosés of Anjou also span the flavor spectrum, ranging from luscious and fully sweet to dry and earthy.
Chinon: Cabernet Franc is truly at home in Chinon. In Bordeaux, the red grape is usually assigned a minor role in blends (if it is used at all), but in the Loire it is allowed to shine in varietal wines made from 100% Cabernet Franc. At its best, Chinon perfectly embodies finesse in winemaking.
Touraine, Cheverny, Quincy, Pouilly, Menetou-Salon, and Sancerre: Along the eastern stretch of the Loire River, the Sauvignon Blanc grape achieves its finest expressions. White wines from these appellations range from lean and overtly mineral to rich and subtly smoky. The Sancerre appellation makes some of the most sublime Sauvignon Blancs in the world. (Sancerre Rouge, made from Pinot Noir, is excellent as well.) Prices for the sought-after wines of Sancerre have, in some cases, risen along with the region’s prestige, so look to the neighboring appellations of Quincy and Touraine for amazing values in Sauvignon Blanc.
Top Deals From Today’s Sale:
Anjou Blanc “Cuvée Les Rangs de Long”, Ch. Soucherie – 2011
From a producer known for exquisite Savennières comes this waxy, golden Chenin Blanc. Full-textured with notes of fresh peach, honeydew, and white flowers, all balanced by a crisp acidity. This is a white that does not try to be loved – it is simply lush and mineraled and honest. Drink it on its own or serve alongside buttery fish and salty chèvre.
Vouvray “Silex” Dom. des Augustins – 2009
A dry Vouvray that’s incredibly fruit-driven, with wonderful concentration of honey, flint, and stony minerals. Founded in 1947, this estate makes every effort to maintain the traditions of Chenin Blanc vine cultivation. Chenin Blanc is the unsung hero of wine pairings. Its luscious concentration goes well with sushi, poultry, buttery fish, and an array of soft and lightly aged cheeses.
Sancerre “Apud Sariacum”, Raimbault – 2011
Philippe Raimbault is a one-man show and a tiny showcase of wines from Sancerre. This Sauvignon Blanc is a classic with racy minerals and white fruits dominating the aromas.
Muscadet Cuvée de Vieilles Vignes, Poiron-Dabin – 2009
A rounded style of Muscadet from 40-year-old vines that have been very well cared for. A clean white wine with winter citrus notes that are tamed by round, subtle drops of honey. This is an everyday Muscadet that drinks like it should be reserved for special occasions. The most appropriate pairing is garlicky stuffed snails, but clams on the half shell or scallops wrapped in bacon work as well.
Anjou Rouge “Pompois,” Clos des Treilles – 2010
Simply red; simply Cabernet Franc. Pompois is a lush cherry-red wine that is charmingly delicious, exuding fresh aromas of early-season raspberries. With zip and a bare stroke of green peppercorn to add texture, this wine is savory, surprising, and just nicely done. Great with many dishes, especially duck breast or sliced venison. “Pompois” refers to the parcel of Cabernet Franc vines used for this wine.