Loire Valley

Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

If you are a wine lover, wine connoisseur, wine aficionado or even if you just like to have a couple of glasses on a Friday night, it soon becomes obvious that there are some wines that are held in a higher esteem in the wine world.  Sometimes, it is because these wines are very rare.  Other times, it’s because the wine has a place in history.   Sometimes it’s because the wine is just that good.  Here is a list of 75 wines from France that make up that category.  A few caveats.  I have not tried every wine on this list.  Some I have and others I hope to.  Many of these wines are rare and hard to find.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be on the list.  After all, if the opportunity presents itself, go for it. 

The Vouvray Region of France's Loire Valley: The Home of Chenin Blanc

France’s Loire Valley, is home to many great wines including the region of Vouvray, the home of Chenin Blanc.  While Chenin Blanc wines are made around the world, perhaps nowhere else makes such distinctive and wonderful wines from that grape as the Loire Valley.  The Loire Valley is in northeastern France and Vouvray is located east of the city of Tours along the right bank of the Loire River.

Cabernet Franc (and other Reds), Loire Valley, France Vintage Charts

Cabernet Franc (and other Reds),  Loire Valley, France    
2009 93 D/H
2008 87

Muscadet, Loire Valley, France Vintage Chart

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Muscadet,  Loire Valley, France    
2009 92 D/H
2008 89 D

Sancerre/Pouilly Fusse, Loire Valley, France Vintage Charts

Sancerre/Pouilly Fusse,  Loire Valley, France    
2009 90 D
2008 87 D

Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé: Wonderful Summer Sauvignon Blancs

On the eastern end of the Loire Valley in France sit the two communes of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé where arguably the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world is produced.  For many, this is the true home for this grape.  While new world producers in California, New Zealand and elsewhere are creating excellent fruit laden Sauvignon Blanc’s, the producers in the Loire Valley excel in complex mineral driven versions of Sauvignon Blanc.  Among all of the regions of the Loire utilizing this grape, the reputations of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé are the best. 

Muscadet: White Wine from France’s Loire Valley is Perhaps the World's Greatest Wine Value

The Loire River is one of the most important rivers in France.  Over the course of its 650 miles, the Loire River Valley is the longest winegrowing region in the world.  The river begins in the mountains of the Ardeche in south-central France, before flowing gently north and then west, flowing out to the Atlantic Ocean on the western coast of France.  Many of France’s Kings had built chateaux’s along the river earning it the nickname of the Royal valley.  In fact, at one point, the Loire Valley was the seat of Royal power in France. 

Loire Valley, France - Wine Vintage Chart

Vouvray, Loire Valley, France  
2009 91 D/H
2008 89 D
2007 87

Rosé du Loire? Mais oui! Cabernet Franc’s Lighter Shade

The Bay Area is experiencing an unseasonable hot spell.  And here, like most places suffering under the unrelenting rays of our nearest star, rosé is king. 

But not just any rosé.  Survey the bottles of blush pinch-hitting for rouge in wine enthusiasts’ lineups these days, and you’ll find a predominance of wine from Southern France.  And rightly so – no region does rosé better than the appellations bordering the sun-lit Cote d’Azur.  But Provence is not the only show in town.  Other regions, not only in France but also in Spain, Germany, and Italy, produce delightful examples of warm weather’s red-substitute. 

Borgueil: The Unpronounceable, Unforgettable King of Cabernet Franc

When I think of wine that is interesting, unique, obscure, high-value, and small-production, I think of Borgueil – the small wine region in France’s Loire Valley that produces almost exclusively Cabernet Franc.

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