Right now, the unknown wine regions are THE deals in France. Forget trying to find a cheap Red Burgundy or Bordeaux and dive into the obscure frontier. Got $20? You can slurp a fruity gamay from Loire Valley’s Touraine region, thank you very much.
The Loire Valley is the 3rd largest wine region in France, situated in the northwestern part of the country. It’s cool, picturesque and serene. Touraine, a sub-region of the Loire, has a slightly warmer climate and turns out pretty rockin’ chenin blanc- and cabernet franc-based wines. They’re also only one of two regions that France permits to list the grape varietal on the label. That makes it easier on us.
This gamay — a grape only allowed in bottles marked “Touraine” or basic wines — comes from an organically-farmed single-vineyard (“Le Bois Jacou”) and is crafted by up-and-coming winemaker, Jean-Francois Merieau. The grape name might sound familiar — it’s the light-hearted, fruitiness found in Beaujolais, a few hours’ drive away. This Loire version is also light-bodied and has a friendly, complex personality, more like a Cru Beaujolais than Nouveau. It’s a tiny bit rustic with spicy black pepper, bright raspberry and stewed strawberry. Naturally high in acidity with an earthy finish. Extraordinary quality for the price. Retails between $15-$17. Sweetness=1 (out of 10). 4.5 stars (out of 5)
It’s imported by Jon Headrick Selections, so find out who distributes it in your state.
Tampa: Buy it locally at Bern’s Fine Wines and Spirits in South Tampa.