The Loire is a beautiful valley in northwest France. While mostly known for its whites—including Sancerre, pouilly-fume, and Vouvray—it’s home to some hidden gems of the red wine world that are often difficult to track down in these parts. In the Loire, as in most of France, wines are named after the town or district in which they are grown. It’s up to you to figure out what grapes the wines are made from and then remember the ones you enjoy. Here is some insight that should make these delicious wines a little less confusing.
These are limited-distribution wines that can be hard to find. Surdyk’s, France 44, or any Haskell’s should have at least one or two, but please call ahead.
Reserve des Vignerons Saumur 2005 (Saumur), $12.49
Saumur is 100% cabernet franc.
This wine is earthy, medium-bodied, and has a nose a bit like grilled asparagus. It has a long finish and is a very affordable way to dive into Loire reds. It would suit a cheese and olive plate with some grilled vegetables.
Les Petites Roches Chinon 2006 (Chinon), $21.99
Chinon is 100% cabernet franc.
This wine is the perfect combination of fruit and earth. The raspberry and blueberry notes, along with some Loire Valley minerality, make this wine big, full-flavored, and complex. Pair it with a meaty fall stew.
Hautes Noelles 2007 (Loire Valley), $13.99
Bright and fruity, like the gamay of Beaujolais, but with a hint of smoky cedar on the nose. So easy to drink that it is gone quickly. Drink this one on its own—no food necessary.
Domaine Henry Pelle Sancerre 2006 (Sancerre), $29.99
Red Sancerre is 100% pinot noir.
One of the rarest reds going, less than 15 percent of Sancerre’s production is pinot noir. While often hard to find, it’s worth the effort, and a must for the true pinot lover. Expect elegant, subtle, and silky—not the monster pinot you’ve been drinking from Oregon. Try this is beautiful wine with lamb or roast chicken.