Warming up to a delicious Loire Valley white

When I opened a bottle from France’s Loire Valley this past weekend, Hervé Villemade’s 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, I was reminded of the importance of temperature in enjoying the full spectrum of a wine’s flavors – and that wines without prestigious appellations on their labels can often be delicious values.

What turned out to be a lovely, subtly complex wine appeared at first one-dimensional and enclosed. But within a few minutes, the wine seemed to come alive, releasing wonderful and complex aromas and tastes and reinforcing my confidence that a wine with the broader “Val de Loire” classification could indeed be memorable.

What had happened, simply, was that the wine had warmed up a few degrees or so,  literally taking the chill out of the bottle and allowing the wine to express itself. If you have left a white wine in the fridge for more than an hour so or ordered one at a restaurant, chances are it’s going to be too cold. Tell your waiter to hold the ice bucket and let your wine sit on the table. (Conversely, I often ask that red wines be chilled down a few degrees to bring them to the more expressive and refreshing “cellar temperature.”)

As for the sauvignon, Villemade produces his wine in Cheverny, an appellation that calls for sauvignon to be blended with some chardonnay or a couple of other white varieties. Hence, an all-sauvignon wine must be declassified to the “Val de Loire” designation.

The sauvignon is made from organically farmed grapes (as are all of Villemade’s wines), and shows notes of orange, pear and apricot, a subtle herb touch and a nice mineral edge. The overall impression is generous and round, even with alcohol listed at just 12.5 percent. This is a beautiful wine with a winning price of about $14. It's available at Chambers Street Wines in New York and other stores.

Just promise me you won’t drink it too cold.

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