The Loire Valley is almost the laboratory of French wines as there is always some experimention and innovation going on there. This ranges from natural winemaking to the extreme, the latest in biodynamic viticulture or late harvest PIneau d'Aunis. Something is always churning in the Loire.
It is by far the leading area in France for value. This includes both red and white wines.
Maybe because the unfashionable (but wonderful) Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc call this place home, the Loire is a sea of value. Loire is the home of rustic, food-friendly Chinon and regal, aristocratic Vouvray to austere, lean, acidic and eventually beautiful Savennieres. Sauvignon Blanc also makes its home here in the Loire's perhaps two most famous appellations, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. One cannot forget about the mineral and stunningly delicious Muscadets that represent about the best dry white wine values in the world.
All these wines are savored locally and in Paris but aside from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume the other appellations have yet to make it on the world stage in any meaningful way. The climate in the Loire is continental and frost is a worry on every growers mind during the spring. The general cool, crisp character of these wines comes from the relatively cool climate these vines are planted in. The acidity is generally high except in freakishly hot vintages like 1997 and 2003 when acid levels were much lower than normal creating wines that seemed clunky without the crisp refreshing acidity that Loire fans are used to.
The vineyard practices in the Loire can vary from very good and sustainable agriculture (biodynamic, organic), to hopelessly irresponsible people who spray excessively and machine harvest. Natural practices in the cellars are big and can yield some very unique and delicious wines but also some unstable wines that are more science experiments than beverages. All this plus the attractive pricing makes this one of the more exciting French regions to explore.
For more detailed write-ups on the following appellations click on through: