Wine of the Week: Extreme Value from the Loire Valley

When people ask me about great value in wine today, I always point them to Spain, to Italy (and in particular, Southern Italy), and to the Loire Valley in France.

From AOCs that you've probably heard of -- like Sancerre in the east to Muscadet in the west -- the Loire Valley spans roughly 170 miles across the agricultural heart of France and includes scores of appellations that are easy to find in the wine shops of Paris but rarely seen here in the U.S.

I was thrilled when I found a bottling from one of these appellations, Quincy (pronounced kahn-SEE, named after the village in the Cher Department), at Spec's for less than $20.

The producer of this wine, Philippe Portier, grows only Sauvignon Blanc grapes (the only variety allowed by the appellation) and vinifies and raises them in temperature-controlled stainless-steel vats that allow the winemaker to deliver fresh, clean, bright white wine, with balanced alcohol.

And while you may not find the depth or nuance of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé (communes where they famously grow Sauvignon Blanc, located not far up river, about an hour-long drive), wines like this can be wonderfully affordable and gloriously food-friendly at our weekday dinner table, where we tend to drink more white than red.

A wine like Portier's Quincy is exactly the type of delicious quaffer that you will find when you visit your favorite bistro in Paris -- well priced and ideal for a wide variety of foods, like tacos stuffed with grilled chicken that Tracie P had marinated in Jarritos Tamarindo (below).

Here's a little wine trick that we often employ at our house to keep wine fresh over the course of a few days: Pull the cork on the wine and pour the desired amount of wine for your meal into a glass carafe (it doesn't need to be crystal); immediately re-cork the wine and put it back into the refrigerator. The short aeration time will keep the wine fresh for one or even two days (depending on how much acidity the wine has). It will work great with a wine like this Quincy.

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