Once again the benefits of L'Equipe Parker are clear with David Schildknecht looking after the Loire. I suspect that a book like this would not have been possible under the old set-up.
Each region/country has an introductory overview that precedes the selected wines. David calls the Loire – the 'bargain garden of France':
'The valley of the Loire River is the bargain garden of France for more than half of its 700 miles*, slopes within 20 miles of the river's shores teem with vines, some indigenous, most introduced down the centuries from all over the rest of France. From few if any other places on earth can one still harvest such affordable but distinctively delicious wines; the stylistic range is so vast that it would bewilder if it did not bewitch us. The Loire's wines generally offer forthright, generous personalities and food compatibility, while frequently harbouring a depth that reflects their historical and geologically layered origins. Even top crus from this region's leaders – including those of global wine-growing champions – remain remarkably modest in price. And there is an abundance of young talent, both homegrown and drawn from afar to this beautiful region with its outstanding, still affordable vine acreage.'
Although David rather underestimates the length of time you can enjoy well-made Muscadet – 'for up to 3 years', he is spot on regarding Loire Sauvignon Blanc: 'even more than Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc takes wicked revenge if overcropped or underripenned, displaying a hard edge and agressive scents of green pepper, asparagus, grassclippings, boxwood, or cat pee'.
I also go along with David's selection of good quality – good value producers. Naturally if I was to draw up a similar list, there might well be a few subtractions and additions but that is always the case with a selection like this.
The tasting notes are not vintage specific but are tailored to give 'a short summary of the style and character of the wine that you are likely to find in a reasonably good vintage for that region'. Consequentially there are no scores for the wines – is this the first Parker book that doesn't score!
Great Value Wines is published in the UK by DK – 497 pages are yours for £12.99 or probably less on Amazon. With over 3000 recommended wines this guide represents excellent value, particularly bearing in mind that Matt Skinner's The Juice 2010 offers only 100 wine recommendations and then he didn't taste them all. See The Listener (New Zealand) and Decanter here.
Very happy to recommend – Robert Parker's Great Value Wines.
Review here on Jim's Loire of Robert Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide 7th edition.
* Slight exaggeration the length of the Loire is normally given as 600 miles.