Spanning over 600 miles in Central France, from the Atlantic ocean to just west of Lyon, the Loire Valley is known for Voltaire, Sully, Joan of Arc and Chenin Blanc.
Chenin Blanc wines are made bone-dry, semi-dry, and sweet — sublimely so in some cases.
From a recent tasting, we liked, from AOC Vouvray, Domaine de la Gaverie 2014 and Domaine Huet 2014. And on the sweet side, from Anjou, the Quarts de Chaume Domaine des Baumard 2010. The Domaine de la Gaverie can be had for under $20 retail, and is great for picnics with ham and seafood.
On the red side, Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley can be really good when the stars line up. One that got our attention was Christian Venier Cheverny Rouge, “La Pierre aux Chiens” 2014 — light-bodied and fruity, yet raw with loads of character. They also have a Pinot Noir/Gamay blend that is said to be superb.