Much to our surprise, Loire reds remain something of an insider secret in the UK market and represent terrific value for money given the calibre of the estates. Domaine de la Cotelleraie, situated in St Nicolas de Bourgeuil where the Loire and Vienne rivers meet, is a prime example. Gerald Vallee took over the reins at the family estate in 1994 and soon realised that hard work in the vineyard was the key to success in the winery. Like so many of his fellow Loire growers, Gerald moved towards organic viticultural practices and all 27 hectares of Cabernet Franc are now farmed organically. It is this decision, along with a careful selection of vineyard parcels and a judicious use of oak that sealed the reputation of his wines. The domaine cuvee is made from grapes grown on the lighter gravel soils and is bottled after a short period of ageing in vat, thus retaining a wonderful purity and freshness of fruit.