Don’t Pass Up These 12 Loire Reds
Despite the high quality of many of the region’s wines, they have not caught on with American consumers. Let’s make this our little secret.
Red wines from the Loire have passed under the radar, but their quality cannot be beat.Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
By Eric Asimov
Published Oct. 19, 2022Updated Oct. 20, 2022
For longer than I can remember, Loire reds have been under-the-radar choices for wine lovers in search of great values.
Why do they seem obscure? It’s not for lack of attention. Wine writers have extolled their virtues for decades, but the general public has long appeared unmoved. Perhaps they are destined to be niche wines. But they do have their fans.
Natural wine lovers know the Loire as having spawned many excellent producers in the early days of the movement. Some of them, like Clos Rougeard and Richard Leroy for his chenin blancs, have become cult labels, highly coveted and ultraexpensive.
But for the most part, the Loire plods along, producing a wide selection of wonderful wines, with talented younger producers joining in regularly.
I recently explored New York wine shops for Loire reds and found a dozen bottles that I highly recommend. Some are great thirst-quenchers that are moderately priced. Others are too expensive for many people, which I understand. But they are still excellent values relative to what you might get for the same price in some other French regions or the Napa Valley.
I’ve spoken generally of the Loire Valley, but it actually encompasses many different regions, from the Muscadet production zone in the west near where the river empties into the Atlantic, to Sancerre and a host of lesser-known areas in the east. I’ve focused on two central areas, the Anjou-Saumur region near the city of Angers and the Touraine area near the city of Tours.
Cabernet franc is the dominant red in both areas, though plenty of other grapes can also be found, including cabernet sauvignon, malbec (known regionally as côt), gamay, pineau d’aunis and grolleau. Most of these bottles are cabernet franc wines, but not all.
Four of these producers use the vague Vin de France appellation rather than the official local appellations. Why? I won’t offer a precise rationale for each, but the four producers are on the natural side of the wine spectrum.
The official bureaucracy, which is charged with maintaining high standards for the appellations, is more of a hidebound defender of the mainstream. Natural wine producers, who don’t conform to conventional farming or winemaking methods and whose wines depart from the norm, frequently decide it is easier to forgo the more prestigious appellations than it is to battle against the bureaucracy.
Please remember these 12 bottles are just a snapshot of the wide array of top-notch wines available from the region. They are by no means the 12 best bottles. Not being on this list should not be interpreted as a slight. I could not find some producers I wanted, and I found others who were new to me whom I wanted to include.
Most likely, you, too, won’t find all the bottles you are seeking. The best solution is to patronize the best wine shop near you and ask the merchants for good substitutes for the wines you can’t find. You may discover something you love.
Here are the 12 bottles, in ascending order of price.
Domaine des Frères Vin de France “Le Pérou 2020”, 12.5 percent, $32
Domaine des Frères, a new estate, was, as its name suggests, started by two brothers, Henri and Valentin Bruneau, who both left their engineering jobs to grow grapes and make wine. They farm organically, roughly 27 acres spread through the Chinon region and take a largely hands-off approach to winemaking, adding only a small amount of sulfur dioxide, an antioxidant, at bottling. The 2020 Le Pérou, their first vintage, is fresh and alive, with flavors of red fruit and mint, along with tannins that are present but subtle. A delicious debut. (Avant-Garde Wines & Spirits, New York)
Article complet : https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/19/dining/drinks/wine-review-loire-reds.html