France’s Loire Valley offers a wealth of delicious white wines. There are three standout varieties: Melon de Bourgogne, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.
If you want a bottle that’s less fruit-forward and has more mineral flavors, grab a Melon de Bourgogne or Muscadet. These wines are known for citrus and saline flavors, and for being the perfect oyster pairing. It’s also common for Loire’s Muscadet to be aged sur lie, meaning they have been allowed to rest on the dead yeast cells, which adds depth and texture to bottles.
Multiple appellations such Anjou, Saumur and Vouvray, produce sparkling, dessert or still Chenin Blanc. And these bottles are much like their counterparts in South Africa. The Loire Valley’s still Chenin ranges from austere and mineral driven to rich and fruity. Sometimes these Chenins are aged in oak.
Sauvignon Blanc is responsible for the iconic white wines of Sancerre and are the most famous wines from the Loire. Much like the region’s Muscadet wines these bottles often display intense mineral tones but also bring grassy herbaceous notes or ripe stone fruit flavors. They can be weightier white wines bordering on full-bodied, even without the boost of oak aging. But there are also oak-aged Sancerres.
Melon de Bourgogne Domaine de l’Epinay 2017 Cru Clisson (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $25, 93 points. Clisson is one of the new generation of cru villages in Muscadet, with wines aged for several years before release. Matured on lees for three years, this wine has rich, ripe mango and pear flavors and maturity that is just right. Drink now. Schatzi Wines. Editors’ Choice. —Roger Voss
Guilbaud Frères 2019 Clos de Beauregard Sur Lie (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $16, 91 points. Lees aging for six months, has given this ripe and fruity wine density as well as attractive richness. Baked apple and pear flavors bring some warmth to the mineral texture and the citrus aftertaste. The wine has a crisp, fresh aftertaste. Drink now. Grape Expectations (CA). Editors’ Choice. —R.V.
Domaine Batard Langelier 2018 Didascalie Sur Lie (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine); $20, 90 points. From vines planted in magma soil, this is a textured, mineral wine. A tangy character suggests citrus as well as kiwi fruits. The wine is cool, crisp and now ready to drink. Savio Soares Selections. —R.V.
Chenin Blanc Saget la Perrière 2014 Château de la Mulonnière L’Effet Papillon (Savennières); $34, 93 points. This is now a rich, mature Chenin Blanc. Its name indicates that fruit comes from the famed Clos du Papillon vineyard of Savennières, giving the wine ripeness and density. The acidity and quince flavors harmonize well. Drink now. Taub Family Selections. —R.V.
Domaine de l’Enchantoir 2019 Terres Blanches (Saumur); $20, 92 points. Matured on its lees to give extra richness, this wine is packed with mango and yellow fruits as well as citrus. A taste of honey hovers in the background of this wine. Drink from 2022. Organic. Skurnik Wines, Inc. —R.V.
Xavier et Agnès Amirault 2018 Les Quarterons Chenin Blanc (Anjou); $37, 91 points. This rich, wood aged wine is impressively structured, with ripe spice, almonds and an inspiring floral character. The round, supple texture and yellow fruits are generous. Although ready to drink, the wine will age at least until 2024. Vineyard Brands. —R.V.
Sauvignon Blanc Domaine Vacheron 2018 Sancerre; $42, 92 points. As it matures, this wine gains in depth and concentration. Ripe green apple and zingy citrus flavors have opened up, bringing good texture and complex structure to the fruitiness. Drink now. Organic and biodynamic. Terlato Wines International. —R.V.
Pierre Morin 2018 Chêne Marchand (Sancerre); $29, 92 points. From the famed vineyard, this wine shows richness and intense white fruits. Herbal and green elements give a crisp edge to the dense texture and perfumed, floral aftertaste. Drink now. Weygandt-Metzler. —R.V.
François Crochet 2018 Les Amoureuses (Sancerre); $40, 91 points. From a vineyard with rich clay and chalk soil, this wine is dense and full of ripe fruit. A zesty edge and touches of minerality contrast with the ripe fruits that offer hints of apricots as well as crisp citrus. Drink from 2021. Organic and biodynamic. Old World Imports LLC. —R.V.