The Loire Valley is one of my favorite wine regions due the the incredible amount of diversity found there. You could devote your life to becoming a Loire expert and never quite get there. From the west to the east you have the four general wine regions: Nantais, Anjou-Saumur, Touraine, and Centre.  The Nantais is best known for Muscadet, the salty, fresh, lovely white wine made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. The region has a couple of other appellations too, specifically Fiefs Vendéens where they make crazy red wine out of gamay, pinot noir, and other grapes.  Anjou- Saumur is really two regions, where they make Anjou rouge and blanc and Saumur rouge and blanc in great quantities. The rouge and blanc are Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc respectively. More well known from Anjou are the Chenin Blanc-based dry and dessert wines from Savennieres, Coteaux du Layon, and Quarts de Chaume.  The Touraine has Bourgeuil and Chinon, appellations which make both simple and complicated wines from Cabernet Franc depending on the soil type of the vineyard. Also there is Vouvray and Montlouis, appellations for dry, sweet and sparkling Chenin Blanc. And finally, the Centre, which boasts the Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé regions, known for what used to be inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc for Paris bistros. Now Sancerre is generally around $25 a bottle,and Pouilly-Fumé not much less so people look to neighboring regions that make similar wines like Menetou-Salon, Quincy, Reuilly and further away, Cheverney. Not to be overlooked is Sancerre and Menetou-Salon rouge, made from Pinot Noir and really versatile on the dinner table.

That is just a general overview of the region…Many details and appellations have been left out, including one of my favorites: Cour-Cheverney. Southeast of Cheverney, the two regions make compeletly different wines. Cour-Cheverney is the only area (that I know of) to utlize the grape Romorantin. I first became acquainted with Cour-Cheverney in my school books, and I imagined that I would never get to taste such an obscure wine! This is a phenomenon that used to vex me quite often, with wines like Cour-Cheverney, Vin Jaune, and Colares, but those wines fell into my lap sooner than I anticipated. Most wines that you read about are imported in to the United States, which is great. Colares might be, but I’ve only seen it in Portugal. At any rate, when I moved to New York, Cour-Cheverney was not only available in several speciality wine shops, but available by the glass at special restaurants (like Trestle on Tenth).

I recently enjoyed a fine example of the wine in Pascal Bellier’s 2004 Cour-Cheverney. Absolutely delicious! Steely, impressive acidity which allowed it to last throughout the week, and tasted like it was full of ground up mineral dust. There was also an apple cider component, and the 4 years of age had added some pleasingly complicated aromas to the mix.