Let me introduce you to two winemakers named Jerome.

In their individual ways, they epitomise some of the best of modern French winemaking and how the region where they work - the western part of the Loire valley - is so important today as a source of smart, well-priced bottles.

As you head inland against the powerful current of France's longest river, the first vineyards you meet are those of muscadet, an appellation that has gone from mass popularity as a basic seafood wine through decades of near-disaster to a renaissance where serious wine-lovers are recognising that there is a whole new level of quality, the flagship crus leading the way.

Much further east, but before the broad expanse of varieties in Touraine, impressive gourmet-favoured cabernet franc reds come from vines with a view of the castle of Chinon.

Hackney Gazette: Jerome Choblet is just one of the winemakers producing quality bottles in the vineyards of the LoireJerome Choblet is just one of the winemakers producing quality bottles in the vineyards of the Loire (Image: Domaine des Herbauges)

These are two areas are where you'll find Jerome Choblet and Jerome Billard.
Choblet's operation is the larger, with capacity enough to cater for the demands of British supermarkets. His single-vineyard Fief Guerin (£10) has been a staple at Waitrose for years and the newly available 2023 vintage, an enticing melange of generous fruit and salty minerality, is my favourite of all his Côtes de Grandlieu Sur Lie muscadets, though the layered, long Chateau de la Pierre old vines (£10.50, Sainsbury's) runs it close.

Choblet is also very innovative, with his new mid-strength Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Val de Loire Blanc (£7.50). From the under-regarded grolleau gris grape (most goes into rosé) it's a mere 8.5% and the best lowish alcohol bottle I've encountered - it's aromatic, fresh, tastes properly of wine and would be a perfect summer lunch-time drink.

No physical or chemical intervention reduces the alcohol, simply work in the vineyard and early picking.Hackney Gazette: Domaine Cady is also based in the Loire's Val-du-Layon regionDomaine Cady is also based in the Loire's Val-du-Layon region (Image: Courtesy of the producer)

His 106-hectare estate is the largest in the Grandlieu region and has long been tended sustainably, now certified under the Terra Vitis scheme. Next on the Choblet agenda: canned muscadet.

East to Chinon, and Jerome Billard's organically tended Domaine de la Noblaie vineyards are among the prettiest in the Loire Valley, hugging the hillsides below and between woodland.

But there's science alongside beauty: the geology throughout the whole site has been meticulously studied, so Billard can make wines that taste of the specific place they come from.

Wine has been important at La Noblaie for centuries, proved by the 500-year-old vat cut deep into the chalk of the old cellar. Billard's top red, Pierre de Tuf (£36, laywheeler.com), macerates slowly there before ageing gracefully in large barrels or amphoras.

Billard's grandfather brought modern winemaking to the estate, which had become a mixed agricultural smallholding, his father took things further and now Jerome - whose cv includes stints at fabled cellars world-wide and who is regarded as one of Chinon's brightest stars - tends 26 hectares of cabernet franc and chenin blanc.

He's one of few Chinon growers to champion the latter grape.
His is still a modest operation, with a workmanlike gravity-fed cellar where the rest of the wines are made.

Red or white, they're fine expressions of grape and place: start with Le Temps des Cerises, juicy and fresh with red fruits, or appreciate how well chenin blanc interacts with oak in Le Part des Anges (thewinesociety.com, £12.95 and £21.50 respectively - the Society often has other La Noblaie wines).Hackney Gazette: Domaine de la Noblaie Les Temps des CerisesDomaine de la Noblaie Les Temps des Cerises (Image: Courtesy of the producer)

Beyond these two rather special vignerons, there is so much more to enjoy from the Loire Valley.

At a recent London tasting of vouvray wines - the appellation is entirely chenin blanc - educator Heather Dougherty put together some memorably delicious pairings of styles from sparkling to sweet with cheeses from Neal's Yard.

The final 20-year-old beeswax-and-ripe-apple moelleux and stitchelton blue was a match made in gastronomic heaven. Back west into Anjou, chenin is also the major white grape, again showing its versatility.

Hackney Gazette: Coteaux du Layon Saint Aubin from Domaine Des ForgesCoteaux du Layon Saint Aubin from Domaine Des Forges (Image: Domaine Des Forges)There are many good growers, but two I warmly recommend are Domaine des Forges (a good selection at tanners-wines.co.uk) and Cady (two at thewinesociety.com).

Further east, sauvignon blanc rules, but I often steer clear of sancerre - it is pricey. Neighbouring menetou-salon, however, offers seriously tempting alternatives, still fresh and structured, such as Joseph Mellot Les Thureaux (£15-£17.50, fountainhallwines.co.uk, noblegreenwines.co.uk).

Wines fit indeed to showcase a world heritage landscape.