Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Josh Bader, our beverage director.
Josh is a recent transplant to Pittsburgh (originally from Ohio, most recently from Michigan), and he’s wild about drink and food (and tattoos and rap).
He’s taken a bit of time to gather some thoughts on wines of the Loire Valley. And he talks about patios and the flavor train. Nice.
The Loire Valley—
Crisp acidity, restrained fruit, bracing minerality and most of all, great value. These are all adjectives that could describe the wines of France’s Loire Valley. Located in Northwestern France, the Loire is one of the most diverse growing regions in the world. Several grape varietals are grown here, but a few of them truly shine. In the famous regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, Sauvignon Blanc reigns supreme. Unlike New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, these bone-dry wines are less about the grapefruit and more about a certain steely minerality that only the Loire can produce. The high acid in these wines makes them great for summer and they pair well with a variety of lighter dishes. If you want to experience a classic food and wine pairing, get yourself a chilled bottle of Sancerre, some quality goat cheese and crackers, head out to your patio and take a ride on the flavor train!
Speaking of patios, there is no better wine to simply drink while relaxing outside than a fruity and dry rosé from the Loire Valley. Every sub region in the Loire makes rosé but rosés from the large district of Anjou are the most well known. These wines are made from several grapes but Cabernet and Cabernet Franc are the most common. Do not confuse these with the poorly made sugary swill that is white zinfandel. These are wines with character, dry and complex, certainly some of the best wines to pair with a wide variety of cuisine. A simple plate of charcuterie and a good rosé is a match made in heaven. The best part is, you can typically get a really good bottle for under $15!
When it comes to reds, Cabernet Franc finds its best representation here in the Loire. While in most other regions it is mainly used as a blending grape, Cab Francs from the Loire are often bottled on their own or with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. Two of the best sub regions are Chinon and Bourgueil. The best of these wines display a palate full of red fruits with a slightly earthy and green component to them. The lighter body and mouthfeel of these wines makes them a good red for warm weather drinking.
So next time you’re in the wine store, walk past the chardonnay and step outside the box with a wine from the Loire. You will be rewarded.