The Loire

Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé continue to lead the way as France's most sought after Appellations Contrôlées. Their popularity has far outgrown that of the Loire Valley's other regions, and this trend shows no signs of abating.

Under the craftsmanship of dedicated, passionate winegrowers like Serge Dagueneau, Lucien Crochet and the young Pinard brothers the reputation of the quality of the region’s wines is in good hands. Both for whites and increasingly for Pinot Noir too. An estate worth singling out is that of Didier Dagueneau, who very tragically died in an accident in 2008, long before his time was due. A perfectionist who did not suffer fools gladly, Didier was passionate about making the best wine he could from the flint and clay soils in Pouilly and is perhaps responsible for proving that the Loire valley could produce some of the world’s best white wines. Didier’s talented son, Benjamin, who had been working at the estate for several years, has taken the reins and is already showing signs of emulating his father. 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 with such racy, invigorating and spellbinding flavours. Producers like Jacky Blot of Domaine Taille aux Loups and Thibaud Boudignon in Savennieres are proving just what a wonderful range of styles can be produced from this great variety. Richness and acidity, succulence and vitality. Top Chenin from the Loire really can have it all. The viticultural advances and the extreme efforts of many growers the Loire Valley has seen over the last decade have without question sent quality soaring high; 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 Jacky Blot’s Domaine de la Butte of Bourgeuil, and Philippe Vatan of Saumur-Champigny can be wonderfully rich, complex age-worthy wines and 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. The future looks bright.