If no wine region on earth can rival the stylistic diversity on display in France’s Loire Valley, the appellation of Anjou offers the perfect microcosm of the region as a whole. Long a staple of the bistros of Paris, the area is home a to a mind-bogglingly vast array of expressions— from white to red, bone-dry lusciously sweet, still to sparkling— derived from a handful of different grapes, from Cabernet Franc and Gamay to Sauvignon Blanc and Charodnnay. But one grape variety could be called the most distinctive of all: Chenin Blanc.
Although Chenin has been cultivated around the city of Angers for centuries, earning praise from none other than writer François Rabelais in the 16th century, over recent years it has inspired a cult-like obsession among wine lovers thanks to its chameleon-like ability to assume a multiplicity of guises. But here in the Loire, as in all of France, the character of the grape is always secondary to that of the soil. And it’s the superb dry versions of Chenin blanc—with their high-wire balancing act between textural richness, orchard fruit, and mouthwatering acidity—that offer the clearest window into Anjou’s varied terroirs.