When The Heat Is On, Loire Valley Wines Quench Your Thirst

Whether you're hitting the beach, a boat, a backyard BBQ, or a pool party, it's time for some easy sipping yet distinctive white wines and rosés that add some class to your festivities. All too often, we reach for the most affordable and readily available blends when purchasing a bottle of wine, but this approach can lead to disappointment.

Mass-produced blends may be guaranteed not to offend anyone's palate but the tradeoff is an unimpressive blandness, or, even worse, a cloying sweetness evocative of bottom-of-the-barrel wine coolers.

Why not take a chance and get some bottles of the good stuff...like what the French and Loire Valley natives (who are also on a budget) unequivocally grab to accompany their summer revelries. But where to start?

To start, it helps to have a bit of background knowledge of the region's terroir to make informed choices. Often referred to as "The Garden of France," The Loire Valley's controlled designations of origin (Appellations d'Origine Contrôlée, or simply A.O.C.) ensure that only the highest-quality grapes are pressed from single varietals.

Approximately 4,000 wineries sprinkled across mountainous topography and specific microclimates comprise the five distinct growing regions of Pays Nantais, Anjou, Saumur, Touraine, and Centre-Loire, making it France's third largest winemaking region, while leading the country in Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and rosé production.

Here are some bottles to get you started:

2014 Domaine Vigneau Chevreau Cuvee Silex

A perfect example of a distinctive wine defined by an interesting range of flavor nuances, this crisp and refreshing vintage from the family-run Vigneau Chevreau Estate hovers between kumquat and lemon on the bouquet depending on serving temperature. Crisp honeydew melon unfolds on the palate, viscerally cutting through whatever you're eating, making for some intriguing pairings with ripe cheeses to summer fare like salads, grilled chicken, and burgers. Dense minerality provides clarity for delicate yet sharp touches of citrus and plum. The mouthfeel is bold but then retreats like the ocean surf, making it perfect with fresh seafood like lobsters, scallops, and oysters. Spring greens and snap peas on the finish with a slight edge of tart cranberry have you reaching for another sip.

2015 Remy Pannier Rosé D'Anjou

Loire Valley rosés — which are distinguished by liveliness balanced with sweet notes and refreshing finishes — are regional whites blended with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grolleau, Gamay, or even Pinot Noir. This particular Rosé D'Anjou exudes pear on the nose with effervescent strawberry rhubarb quickly transitioning to peach nectar on the palate, taking hold of the tongue with a hint of uncloying strawberry sweetness on the finish. The interplay between acidity and minerality seem to hover just above the palate, making it perfect for food pairings like smoked and white meats, as well as some interesting chocolate pairings.

2015 Domaine Beausejour Sauvignon de Blanc Touraine Les Grenettes

Grown in limestone soil characteristic of the Reuilly, Quincy, and Pouilly-Fumé appellations, the grapes used in this vintage exhibit distinctly dry fruity qualities like fresh banana on the bouquet with strawberry citrus that blasts forth strongly on the palate, then receding to fresh greens and a well-balanced minerality. There are slight tart cherry notes on the finish, making it perfect with seafood of all types.

2014 Jo Landron de la Louvetrie Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie

This Melon de Bourgogne from the Saumur and Vouvray appellations, better known as Muscadet, exudes a floral, light-bodied lean freshness and crisp acidity. Its stable mouthfeel and an initial deep, dark biting gives way to a distinctive honeydew melon flavor on the palate, enhancing its well balanced and refreshing depth and refreshment. It's quite likely that its flintiness on the nose portends the explosive intensity and full bodied minerality of lemon essence you get on the palate.

Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored tasting with Loire Valley Wines.