Since the beginning of 2020, no fewer than 2,500 wines from the Loire valley have been sold at auction on the iDealwine platform. Much more than a passing trend, the region is firmly establishing itself in the fine wine market, with an increasing number of enthusiasts keen to discover what it has to offer. Last year, the average price per bottle auctioned from the Loire was €71, a figure that has already shot to €91 in the first six months of 2020.
When analysing the current trends seen in the Loire, what immediately stands out is diversity: no single domain, appellation, grape variety, or even colour could claim to dominate the region. The highest priced bottle from 2019 in this region was a Chenin dessert wine from Clos Naudin (Vouvray), whilst this year tells a totally different story already. At the moment, Didier Dagueneau’s 1995 Astéroide cuvée from Pouilly-Fumé, a dry Sauvignon Blanc, is the one to beat! This is an almost unfindable bottle from non-grafted vines, the height of rarity in the Loire and in France more broadly. Clearly this was enough to attract some very keen bidders, as the bottle sold for over €2,000 at auction.
Whilst the region’s white cuvées are highly coveted, the charms of the finest Cabernet Francs are evidently working a treat, since nine of the twenty top bottles are red wines. Most of these come from Chinon (Domaine Charles Joguet, Roches Lenoir, Bernard Baudry), although the highest-priced red of 2020 so far is a Saumur-Champigny: perhaps unsurprisingly, a Magnum of the 1995 LE Bourg cuvée from Clos Rougeard, sold for €1,388.
The one element that could be seen as a common denominator between all the domains in the ranking is their attitude to viticulture, most of them being environmentally-friendly, though not necessarily certified organic or biodynamic. The region contains some of France’s biodynamic pioneers: as well as Didier Dagueneau, we have Stéphane Bernaudeau, Richard Leroy and the illustrious Nicolas Joly from la Coulée de Serrant. Three wine makers who find themselves well-placed in the auction ranking so far this year, taking 8th, 11th and 12th place respectively.
When it comes to buying wine from the Loire, you’ve show yourselves to be especially open, placing your confidence in ‘natural’ wine makers and seeking out the next big thing, all aspects that make the region’s wine market particularly dynamic. Take, for example, Les Jardins Esmeraldins by Xavier Caillard in Saumur. Not even featuring in the 2018 ranking, this cuvée made quite the entrance last year with a 2011 vintage selling at €851. Last month, a 1990 bottle from the same domain went for €1,363 (4th place), demonstrating an impressive leap of 60% in just one year. And this is a price only slightly lower than the star of the region, Clos Rougeard, whose 1995 Le Bourg cuvée was sold in Magnum format. Some of the natural names we have here are already icons, and others are up-and-coming: Richard Leroy, Stéphane Bernaudeau, Domaine du Collier, Domaine de l’Arbre Blanc, Antoine Sanzay, Marc Angeli, Guiberteau, and Domaine du Bel Air. These are names to keep an eye on, as they’re increasingly sought-after by wine enthusiasts the world over.
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Top Loire bottles, first 6 months of 2020
Top Loire lots, first 6 months of 2020