“If you talk to the experts, however, a few key themes perpetually recur—not least of all this astonishing variety of expressions.”  – that’s what PUNCH had to say about Loire Valley wines, and we couldn’t agree more. The Loire Valley wine region, which surrounds the country’s longest river as it winds west across Northern France, produces a dizzying array of wines from its 51 appellations.

The range of grape varieties – from Melon B to Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc – are perfect for the tough-to-pair classics that often dominate springtime tables. With traditional seasonal centerpieces like ham, Chenin Blanc from Vouvray or Savennieres provides a perfect, zippy accent with its tropical fruit flavors and a hint of sweetness, while spicy Cabernet Francs from Chinon and Saumur are a natural match for savory lamb dishes. Even brunch dishes – like deviled eggs and dishes drizzled with rich hollandaise – have their perfect matches with Loire Valley wines. Loire Valley wines are sommelier darlings because their high acidities and moderate alcohol levels make them veritable chameleons on the table. As Master of Wine Susan R. Lin told PUNCH recently, “​​What makes the Loire so unique is that it offers so many choices for wines that offer great pleasure as stand-alone aperitifs or paired with food.”

Better yet, Loire Valley wines are simultaneously beacons of value – with the vast majority costing less than $30  retail. According to nationwide data from BevAlc Insights, 65%  of all white wine purchased is in this $10-$20 range, making Loire Valley wines go-to bottles for casual drinkers and sommeliers alike.