Wine Enthusiast Magazine

LOIRE VALLEY

It’s hard to find many benefits of climate change. However, there is one for vine growers and wine producers in cooler climates. Grapes that ripened erratically are now regularly capable of going the extra mile, turning out wines that previously could only have been made in warmer climes.

That’s the case in the eastern Loire regions of Sancerre and Menetou-Salon. While these areas might be better known for Sauvignon Blanc, this story is about Pinot Noir.

Producers have learned to make red wines that are close to attaining the heights of Burgundian Pinot Noir.

The red wines of Sancerre and Menetou-Salon, which are made entirely from Pinot Noir, used to be mainly thin and weedy. A few geniuses, such as the Vacheron family, managed to coax richness from grape, but mostly the wines were light in profile, with flavors of bell pepper and green herbs. Sometimes, a producer would throw wood at the problem and fail.

The last six years, starting with the 2014 vintage, there has been a remarkable change. Producers have learned to make red wines that are close to attaining the heights of Burgundian Pinot Noir, with the same depth and complexity. They have learned that wood supports the fruit and doesn’t submerge it.

The resulting wines are reflected in a recent batch of reds reviewed from

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