Loire

Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé continue to lead the way as France's most recognisable Appellations Contrôlées. Their popularity is such that they are often seen as synonymous with the Loire as a whole. And yet the region is home to far more than just the central vineyards. Across the length of the Loire Valley, a multitude of other vineyard regions, from Muscadet to Montlouis, are producing wines of exceptional quality at every price point (and in every conceivable style).

Under the craftsmanship of dedicated, passionate winegrowers like Valerie Dagueneau, Gilles Crochet and the young Pinard brothers, the reputation and quality of the region’s Sauvignon Blanc is in good hands: as it is for Pinot Noir too. Icon estates like Didier Dagueneau, now under the watchful eye of Benjamin, the late Didier’s son, remain hugely sought after and highly prized. And there are up and coming finds too; the likes of JP Agisson’s tiny eponymous domaine proving there are still exciting discoveries to be made in this well-trodden corner of France. The best of these wines, grown on top hillside sites, age far better than most give them credit for.

The Loire Valley is also home to Chenin Blanc. Whether it's dry, off-dry or sweet, nowhere else in the world can you find Chenin Blanc with such racy, invigorating and spellbinding flavours. Characters like Jacky and Jean-Philippe Blot of Domaine de la Taille aux Loups in Montlouis, and Thibaud Boudignon in Savennieres continue to prove that this variety is capable of real finesse, expression and longevity. Single vineyard bottlings deserve a place in the most exacting of cellars.

The viticultural advances and the extreme efforts of many growers the Loire Valley have sent quality soaring high in the past decade; and this is no more evident than with its red wines. Despite a marginal, northern climate, a good grower can now be expected to make good quality wine almost every vintage. Cabernet Francs from the likes of the Blot’s Domaine de la Butte of Bourgeuil and Philippe Vatan of Saumur-Champigny can be wonderfully rich yet resonant, complex age-worthy wines. With a few exceptions they are still under-appreciated, thus offering some of the Old World's best value red drinking. Loire reds are now to be taken very seriously. Finally, heading towards the Nantes and the sea itself, Muscadet, in the right hands, continues to produce wines of startling value and character (though all too often in the wrong hands, wines of simple, often boring quaffability). Our very own Faille Lieubeau bottle up two cru bottlings, stored for between 24 and 36 months sur lie before being bottled with complexity and texture that belies the appellation. And for sheer versatility, the ripe fruit and saline finish of Confluent is a remarkably good value everyday proposition.

Loire Wine List

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