Loire Valley Wines: Diverse, yet Distinctive



By Kori ~ September 21st, 2010.

The Loire Valley is France’s third largest wine region. It is a long, narrow region that runs predominately east/west along the Loire River. The region spans about 600 miles. The Loire Valley includes 65 appellations and produces wines from over a dozen grape varieties. There is great diversity in Loire Valley wines due to its wide range of microclimates. Loire Valley wines are very food-friendly and are the most popular wines ordered in restaurants in France.

Last week, the Loire Valley Wine Bureau hosted a trade tasting of Loire Valley wines in Seattle. It was a great opportunity for Dad (John) and I to explore Loire Valley wines further. While over 100 different wines were being poured from all over the Loire Valley and made from many different grape varieties, we decided to focus our tasting on Cabernet Franc and dry Chenin Blanc.

In the Loire Valley, “Cabernet” means Cabernet Franc. It was the Loire’s first red grape variety, and it thrives there. Known for its earth, spice, and red fruit characteristics, Cabernet Franc is the red grape variety used to produce wines in Chinon, Bourgueil, Saumur, Saumur-Champigny, and Anjou, among others.

Chenin Blanc is a white grape variety native to the Loire Valley. It is able to adapt to different microclimates and therefore is produced in a wide variety of styles, from dry to sweet to sparkling. Chenin Blanc is the primary white variety in appellations such as Vouvray, Anjou, Chinon, and Saumur.

Of the wines we tasted, one Cabernet Franc and one Chenin Blanc stood out above the rest. We thought that the 2006 Domaine Jo Pithon Anjou (Cabernet Franc) and the 2009 Pierre Chainier Clos de Nouys Vouvray Sec (Chenin Blanc) were excellent. As far as value goes, the wines of Cave des Vignerons de Saumur delivered serious bang for the buck. If you have not had any or many wines from the Loire Valley, I encourage you to seek out one of these wines to help expand your palate. These wines are quite distinctive and really express the unique terroir of the Loire Valley.

Here’s a breakdown of the wines that we tasted at the Loire Valley Wines event. Under each Quality heading, the wine name, grape variety, and region within the Loire Valley will be listed along with price and QPR rating. Wines in bold type received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2006 Domaine Jo Pithon Anjou (Cabernet Franc), Anjou, $24.99, QPR: 4
2009 Pierre Chainier Clos de Nouys Vouvray Sec (Chenin Blanc), Vouvray, $21.99, QPR: 3

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2009 Cave des Vignerons de Saumur Lieu-Dit Les Vignoles Saumur-Champigny (Cabernet Franc), Saumur-Champigny, $12.99, QPR: 5
2005 Chateau de Targe Saumur-Champigny (Cabernet Franc), Saumur-Champigny, $18.99, QPR: 4
2005 Domaine Baudry-Dutour Perriere Vieilles Vignes Chinon (Cabernet Franc), Chinon, $22, QPR: 4
2008 Laurent Kraft Vouvray Sec (Chenin Blanc), Vouvray, $16, QPR: 3
2004 Couly Dutheil Clos De L’Echo Chinon (Cabernet Franc), Chinon, $34.99, QPR: 2

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2009 Cave des Vignerons de Saumur Les Pouches Saumur (Cabernet Franc), Saumur, $9.99, QPR: 5
2009 Cave des Vignerons de Saumur Lieu-Dit Les Epinats Saumur (Cabernet Franc), Saumur, $9.99, QPR: 5
2009 Cave des Vignerons de Saumur Lieu-Dit Beauregard Bourgueil (Cabernet Franc), Bourgueil, $10.99, QPR: 5

2009 Cave des Vignerons de Saumur Le Haut Vignot Anjou (Chenin Blanc), Anjou, $8.99, QPR: 4
2009 Cave des Vignerons de Saumur Lieu-Dit Les Epinats Saumur (Chenin Blanc), Saumur, $9.99, QPR: 4
2007 Domaine de Quarres Metis Anjou-Villages (Cabernet Franc), Anjou-Villages, $17, QPR: 4
2007 Remy Pannier Chinon (Cabernet Franc), Chinon, $19, QPR: 3
2004 Wilfrid Rousse Vieilles Vignes Chinon (Cabernet Franc), Chinon, $20, QPR: 3
2007 Domaine Filliatreau Grande Vignolle Saumur-Champigny (Cabernet Franc), Saumur-Champigny, $20, QPR: 3
2009 Couly Dutheil Les Chanteaux Chinon (Chenin Blanc), Chinon, $26.99, QPR: 1

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2009 Cave des Vignerons de Saumur Les Pouches Saumur (Chenin Blanc), Saumur, $9.99, QPR: NR
2005 Domaine des Baumard Logis de la Giraudiere Anjou (Cabernet Franc), Anjou, $17, QPR: NR
2009 Pierre Gauthier Jour De Soif Bourgueil (Cabernet Franc), Bourgueil, $19.99, QPR: NR
2007 Couly Dutheil Barronie Madaleine Chinon (Cabernet Franc), Chinon, $22.99, QPR: NR


Filed under: Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, French Wine, Red Wine, White Wine, Wine Activities/Events, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Bottle Deck | September 24th, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Great wine region indeed! Also, don’t forget all the sweet chenin based wine like chaume.

  2. Kori | September 30th, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Thanks, Bottle Deck. Yes, a lot of good wine to be had in the Loire. For this tasting, though, we focused on the dry Chenins. Cheers!

  3. Vouvray and chenin blanc demsytified | Stalkingwine | December 2nd, 2010 at 6:18 pm

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