Review: 4 Wines from the Loire Valley, 2020 Releases
France’s Loire Valley, just 100 miles or so southwest of Paris, has long been a kind of working man’s alternative to the fancier wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy. But here in the third largest winegrowing region in the country, you’ll find some of France’s most approachable wines, including the universally loved Sancerre (made from sauvignon blanc), Vouvray (chenin blanc), and wines made from cabernet franc, which shines brightly in this region.
A sprawling area, the Loire is home to all manner of styles, only a handful of which we explore in this roundup of recent Loire releases.
2018 Domaine Cherrier Sancerre – Surprisingly mild, the focus on this sauvignon blanc is on stone and saline, a gentle lemon-lime character giving the finish a slight citrus bent. Chalky on the body and lightly grassy on the tongue — perhaps evoking the famous goat cheese made in the region — there are hints of a tangerine sweetness on the very back end that give it a lift. B / $28
2018 J. de Villebois Sauvignon Blanc Val de Loire – Clean and lemony, this crisp offering is punchy with fruit and acidity, with just a bit of sweet, almond-laced nougat on the finish. It’s a straightforward wine that doesn’t necessarily evoke the Loire, but it’s quite versatile, particularly at this price. B+ / $15
2018 Château de la Ragotière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie Selections Vielles Vignes – This lively muscadet offers a fresh punch of honeydew melon up top, with bold lemon and saline notes coming soon after. Dry and high in acid, it’s a delightful refresher which pairs well with a wide range of dishes. A- / $19
2016 Amirault Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Les Quarterons – The sole red in our roundup, this 100% cabernet franc pours the red fruit on up front — strawberry, then some raspberry — then lets more savory elements work their way into the picture. Notes of graphite, tar, and leather all give the finish a gritty composition, with hints of fresh-turned earth lingering. B+ / $32
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