It’s impossible to quantify, but there is soulfulness—you might even say honesty—to the wines of the Loire Valley. Muscadet presents some of the best values in French wine. Compare these zingy, mineral-driven pleasers to dry Riesling or Chablis. The towns of Chinon and Bourgeuil raise Cabernet Franc to some of its highest expressions as a stand-alone variety. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé produce some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world—deep yet brisk, steely, and chalk full of minerality. Last but certainly not least is the Chenin Blanc from areas such as Vouvray, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Quarts-de-Chaume and others, with styles ranging from bone-dry to dessert sweet—and don’t forget about the bubbles!
It’s hard to think of any French wine region being “under the radar,” but the Loire Valley comes close, and that suits its fans just fine.