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Loire Valley Wines

A profusion of high-quality wines hail from France's Loire Valley. Yet because most Loire wines are named for places within the region, many of these superb sips remain a mystery to wine lovers. Check out this quick guide to help you make sense of them all.

Dry whites. Named after one of the most renowned regions in the Loire Valley, Pouilly-Fumé is a world-class aromatic white made exclusively from Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Vouvray lies at the eastern end of the valley near Tours. Slightly sweet but still delightfully dry, Vouvray wine is made from 100 percent Chenin Blanc grapes. In addition to winsome dry wines, the large Vouvray district also produces excellent sweets and sparklers.

If you're looking for a tantalizing wine to serve with seafood this spring, give Muscadet a look. Some of the most interesting of these come from the sub-regions of Muscadet, which lies at the western end of the Loire Valley. Be sure to check for the words "sur lie" on the label, as these versions offer some of the most intense flavors of all Muscadets.

Rosés. Perhaps because they range from slightly to fully off-dry (that is, a little sweet), the Loire's rosés make superb introductory sips for those who are new to wine. Some of the best can be found around the region of Anjou, about 200 miles southwest of Paris. Look for bottles labeled Rosé d’Anjou.

Sparkling wines. Second only to the Champagne region as a producer of sparkling wines, Loire sparklers are required by law to be made with the same labor-intensive technique as their sassy competitors to the north.

For great quality at bargain-basement prices, sparklers with Vouvray in their names are very hard to beat.

Sweet wines. Made from Chenin Blanc grapes, these spectacular wines represent the most outstanding incarnations of this varietal and style. As mentioned above, Vouvray sweets are particularly notable.

One more time! Just in case you missed it, here's a quick recap of the Loire's most popular varietals and corresponding regions:

  • Sauvignon Blanc: Pouilly Fumé
  • Chenin Blanc: Vouvray
  • Muscadet (also known in the Loire region as Melon de Bourgogne): Muscadet
  • Rosé: Anjou

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