Two hundred and ninety-three wines. Ten wine professionals. Five categories. One unique region. That was the challenge put forth by Loire Valley Wines in an unprecedented tasting — and the results were unlike anything anyone expected.
The first-ever Buyers’ Selection, held in June 2021, brought together the best palates in the United States for the most in-depth assessment of Loire Valley wines ever held. Across five categories — Red, White, Sparkling, Rosé, and Best Loire Expression: Fresh, Fruity, and Friendly— sommeliers and retail buyers judged an impressive array of wines from Loire’s numerous appellations in search of wines that exemplified the essence of the region.
As the third-largest winemaking region in France, there’s a lot to uncover in the Loire. Each of the five major subregions — Pays Nantais, Anjou, Saumur, Touraine, and Centre-Loire — boast of their own terroir and personality. The ocean’s influence on Pays Nantais means mild winters and hot summers, and this maritime climate flows into neighboring Anjou. Saumur’s proximity to hillier terrain means it’s less exposed to the ocean air’s current, resulting in wider climactic changes throughout the seasons.
Touraine is at the nexus of maritime and continental climates, and the limestone soils of Saumur also make their home among Touraine’s sand and clay soils. It’s almost hard to believe the inland Centre-Loire, with its marked seasonal shifts and clay-limestone-Kimmeridigian soils is the same Loire as coastal Pays Nantais, but it is this diversity that makes Loire the center of the world wine stage. And like the unifying Loire River, a common thread runs through these five subregions: a propensity for fresh, fruity, and friendly wines that excite any wine drinker.
What also makes the Loire stand out is its large focus on single-varietal bottlings. Whether it’s Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Melon de Bourgogne, or Chenin Blanc, each variety shines while expressing the true terroir of its home.
Judges came from all areas of the industry to meet the challenge of selecting wines that define the Loire. Although their backgrounds and experiences are highly diverse, they all agreed on one thing: Loire Valley wines offer something unexpected. “I love that they are aromatic and fresh,” said Tonya Pitts, Wine Director, One Market Restaurant and Bar. “There is always surprise. There is value. For me, I like to offer them within tasting menus. There’s lots of versatility…you can take people on a journey—through their palates—to unexpected places.”
After intense debate and appraisal, the following wines received top ratings in each category:
Alliance Loire, Les Poyeux, Saumur-Champigny, 2018
A crisp and lively take on Cabernet Franc with aromas of fresh violet, green peppercorn, and wild raspberry. 96 points
Domaine Laffourcade, Perray Jouannet, Anjou, 2016
Peppery notes plus black and red fruit aromas meet flavors of cacao nib and dried cranberry, all which linger on the finish. 96 points
Domaine Xavier and Agnès Amirault, Le Vau Renou, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, 2017
Intense floral notes with a touch of fresh-hewn oak and graphite appear while the palate entices with ripe black cherry, red plum, and pink peppercorns. 95 points
Thierry Delaunay, “La Vignette” Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine, 2020
Fresh-cut flowers, young fir, and cider apple aromas give way to a slightly creamy palate that’s ripe with apple and pear, ending on a lemon and chalk note. 99 points
Domaine Figeat André et Edmond, Les Chaumierres, Pouilly-Fumé, 2020
Highly aromatic with smoked white peppercorn, preserved lemon, and fresh mint, a refreshing acidity balances this fairly full-bodied wine. 98 points
Domaine Laporte, La Terre de Anges, Sancerre, 2019
Cooling and cleansing, this citrus-forward wine, with notes of ripe clementine and ruby red grapefruit, is the perfect accompaniment to hors d’œuvres. 97 points
Florian Mollet – Domaine Roc de l’Abbaye, Tradition, Sancerre, 2020
A beautiful salmon pink in the glass, the aromas are rich with citrus and minerals, while grapefruit peel and undertones of fresh herbs blossom on the finish. 99 points
Joseph Mellot, Les Milets, Reuilly, 2020
The palate on this orange-tinted rosé shines with rich peach and apricot fruit notes but finishes snappy and dry. 98 points
Florian Mollet – Domaine Roc de l’Abbaye, Tradition Pinot Noir Rosé, IGP Val de Loire, 2020
Coppery ballet pink in the glass, the aromas are equally pretty with notes of red fruits and citrus. 98 points
Domaine du Vieux Pressoir, Saumur Fines Bulles, NV
Complex and layered flavors and aromas of toasted almond, grapefruit, and lemon zest come together in this refreshing wine. 99 points
Langlois-Chateau, Brut, Crémant de Loire, NV
Juicy ripe mango, tangerine, and lemon zest burst on the palate of this bright and fresh sparkling wine. 98 points
Vignobles Feray, Château Moncontour – Brut, Vouvray, NV
Rich and honeyed but still dry, the wine sings with notes of toasted almonds and spiced apples, plus a fine, creamy texture. 96 points
Domaine de la Foliette, L’Origine, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, 2020
Bracing and bright, this vibrant wine makes the mouth water with notes of oyster shell, sea salt, lime zest, and ginger. 100 points
Domaine de Lallay, Lignée, Chinon, 2018
Brilliant ruby in color, the wine entices with dried plum, mission fig, black pepper, and a dry, flinty earthiness. 100 points
Michel Girard et Fils, Cuvée Silex, Sancerre, 2020
Rich and dry flavors of lemon peel, clementine, dried grass, and wet stone cascade in a medium-bodied and slightly creamy wine. 100 points
Now it’s your turn to taste these award-winning wines. Look for the “Buyers’ Selection” sticker at your favorite wine shop and see why the Loire is producing the most exciting wines today.
To see all the results and ratings from the event, click HERE.
Last Updated: May 8, 2023