For those of you that haven’t heard, the Loire Valley is *still* one of the wine world’s best kept secrets. Situated in the northwestern part of France, the Loire Valley wine region encompasses various terroirs along the length of France’s longest river, starting with Muscadet on the Atlantic coast, all the way to Sancerre, just southeast of Orléans in central France. The region is comprised of 87 appellations, producing white wines from Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne, and red wines from (predominantly) Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Gamay. Wines are made in all different styles here–including sparkling, rosé, and dessert–and generally don’t demand a hefty price tag. The Loire Valley offers one of the best quality to price ratios; in fact, it’s probably more difficult to find a foul tasting inexpensive bottle of wine from the region than it is to find a good one. Here are seven wines from all over the spectrum not to miss this fall season:
Domaine Damien Pinon Vouvray Brut NV
Sparkling wines from the Loire, especially Chenin Blanc based sparklers, are perfect for the fall season. Their crisp, zesty apple notes provide a great alternative to heavy ciders and beers, yet still remain seasonally appropriate. Damien Pinon’s Vouvray Brut is produced via bottle fermentation with notes of stone fruit and brioche. Refreshing, yet savory, this wine is perfect for any fall celebration (and will cost you a lot less than true Champagne).
Domaine de la Chaise Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Yearning for a bottle of Sancerre yet without the hefty price tag? Look no further than Domaine de la Chaise’s Touraine Sauvignon Blanc. The bottle bursts with white fruit flavors and the signature minerality found in Sancerre, yet at a fraction of the cost. Flinty and crisp, this bottle is perfect for your pre-dinner aperitif.
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet 2015
Crafted from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, these organically farmed, hand-harvested grapes undergo fermentation with only natural yeasts. The wine is then aged sur-lie, adding a yeasty, zesty layer of flavor that screams autumn. A refreshing yet savory bottle of white.
Domaine Agnès et René Mosse, Les Bonnes Blanches Blanc 2014
The Mosse family cultivates their land with the belief that wine is a product of two specific elements: the way the vine is cultivated and the way the wine itself is made. Their vines are farmed organically for the sake of keeping both the fruit and planet healthy, with as little human intervention as possible in the winemaking process. Les Bonnes Blanches is 100% Chenin Blanc with a lush, medium-bodied palate. Light residual sugar on the end lingers to a dry, long-lasting finish.
Domaine Thomas & Fils, Sancerre Rouge Terres Blanches 2015
Who says that French Pinot Noir only finds its home in Burgundy? The Thomas family has been tending vines in the Loire Valley since the seventeenth century, with current winemakers being ninth and tenth generation. This 100% Pinot Noir bursts with earthy flavors of red fruit and plum. Pairs perfectly with savory fall dishes such as Coq au Vin or Lamb stew.
Domaine du Raifault Chinon Cuvée Tradition 2013
Cabernet Franc is the perfect summer to fall red varietal; serve it lightly chilled or room temperature, drink it with red meat or simply on its own, Cabernet Franc can do it all. And it can do it well. Domaine du Raifault Chinon displays a green peppery nose, carrying over to the palate and mingling with earthy, light spice. A perfect red for those chilly autumn nights.
Château de la Roulerie Coteaux du Layon 2013
Botrytised grapes make the some of the best dessert wines in the world, though generally pack a hefty price tag on your local wine shop shelf. For a Sauternes style alternative, look to Coteaux du Layon for all of your dessert wine needs. This 100% hand-picked Chenin is the perfect wine for all of your fall recipes; the smooth, honeyed, white fruit flavors are exquisite with apple tarts and peach pies. Rich and luscious, this wine is truly a stunning way to end a robust fall meal.