We heart the Loire Valley.
Not only is the region (mapped out in our handy infographic) one of the most diverse and historic in France, but cheapos like us can find affordable wines that drink beautifully.
And now the Loire's new generation of young winemakers is looking outside well-established appellations like Sancerre and Vouvray to give areas like Anjou, Touraine and Muscadet some much-deserved love.
"The land tends to be more affordable, so young winemakers are scooping up vineyards," says Patrick Cappiello, wine director and partner at New York City's Pearl & Ash. "There's excitement in the region to mix things up."
Red: In Anjou and Touraine, winemakers are reviving lesser-known varietals like Côt, the local name for Malbec, and Pineau d'Aunis, an indigenous grape yielding bright, light-bodied reds. Look for bottlings from Anjou's Agnès and René Mosse and Touraine's La Grange Tiphaine. "Loire reds are bold, hearty and really great with game meats," says Cappiello. "They're an affordable alternative to other areas that make Cabernet varietals."
White: Muscadet, the Valley's westernmost region, is having a moment. "It's an area that's been overlooked," says Cappiello, "but it's in a position to take off." Winemakers like Marc Ollivier of Domaine de la Pépière, he adds, have raised the bar for other wineries in the region. And because the wines are less expensive than their Sancerre-grown brethren, we'll be stocking up on the crisp whites for spring oyster parties.
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