Loire Valley Wines: How to Start a Cellar

French Wine Explorers | Monday, Apr 22nd 2013
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When thinking of filling your wine cellar for the summer, consider Loire Valley wines.  Wine cellars give you flexibility, and a spectrum of wines for your enjoyment. You choose wines when they are most available, and keep them until they are mature. That doesn’t mean that all of your wines are for long term cellaring. Far from it. You should also have an assortment of enjoyable wines for immediate enjoyment. For example, many people including myself enjoy Beaujolais wines during the summer.

But that is just a start for enjoyable summer wines. Loire Valley wines, now gaining popularity as they become better known, are also perfect for your wine cellar, and offer more wine tasting variety. The future trend may well be towards these pleasing and lesser known wines, which are still not very costly. So why not buy an assortment, enjoy them, and then replace them, as you find new favorites?

Let’s pick a case and a half of Loire Valley wines, three bottles of each. Prices given are per bottle, without taxes.

Loire Valley wines tend to be light and flavorful. A favorite is Muscadet Marquis de Goulaine sur lie 2010 ($14), which has been made at the same property, a few miles from Nantes, for over 1,000 years. Of medium weight and with a refreshing grapefruit tinge, this white wine goes perfectly with seafood.

You will want to try the red wine of Chinon, made from the same Cabernet Franc grape that is at the base of many fine Bordeaux wines. The Chinon Raffault “Les Galuches” 2010 ($14.50), which you’ll savor with outdoor cooking, is a good choice, light and not too sweet.

Some Loire Valley wines such rosé d’Anjou wines sometimes disappoint, as being overly sweet. Why not try something new, the Cabernet d’Anjou appellation, which is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes? This rosé wine has pleasant berry flavors. The 2010 David Lecomte Château Passavent Cabernet d’Anjou ($10) just might be your own summer wine discovery. Try it slightly chilled, with your barbeque.

Pouilly Fumé is an elegant white Loire Valley wine, made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, which were first grown in the Loire Valley. You might well serve it as an aperitif on a warm summer evening. The Blanchet “Silice” retails for $17.50.

A red Sancerre, made from Pinot Noir grapes but much lighter than a red Burgundy wine, would also go well with grilled meats in the summer. Try Jean-Marc Crochet’s 2010 Sancerre, at $17.

For a flavor contrast, you’ll enjoy a Vouvray. These white wines must be chosen with care, for they are on the sweet side. A quality performer is Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec “le Haut Lieu,” at $25. Here, your retailer would be glad to make further suggestions.

This makes eighteen bottles of well chosen, quality Loire Valley wines for your wine cellar, at a total price of $291 before tax, or about $16 per bottle. You and your lucky friends will have great enjoyment, with wines fitting the weather and perfectly complementing your late spring and summer dinners.

What are your favorite Loire Valley wines? Let us know!

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