Though the Loire Valley is known worldwide for its vibrant white wines, its red wines are no less compelling – in fact, we’d argue they’re the perfect wines for shoulder seasons and the start of sweater weather across the United States. Made from a range of grape varieties including Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Pinot Noir, these wines are versatile in the glass and on the table.
“Whether someone is serving chicken, seafood, or something more hefty, Cabernet Franc has a bright red berry element and a little spiciness or herbaceous quality that is wonderful and that makes the wine so versatile,” Master of Wine Susan R. Lin reminded us recently. “Especially with savory dishes – maybe with mackerel or other oily fish or umami elements – the fruit character of the wine is highlighted beautifully. Because there are so many dimensions to Cabernet Franc, I think it is so fun to experiment with that variety from the Loire, with its different flavors and textures.”
The secret to the Loire Valley’s diversity of red wines is its location: The Valley extends across northern France for over 600 miles along/following France’s longest river, the Loire, and giving the region a vast array of climates for growing grapes. These varied soils and microclimates allow vintners to produce a dazzling range of wines from several red grape varieties. Overall, that means more diversity for wine lovers – the Loire produces everything from featherweight and easy-drinking bottles to long-lived and powerful Cabernet Francs.
These wines are not only versatile on the table but provide incredible value too, often costing far less than other French wines of a similar caliber. This season as the temperatures fall, we recommend continuing to reach for Loire Valley wines!