The wines of Saint-Pourcain are ancient, dating to the Roman conquest of France and noted in the Saumur cellars of King St. Louis in 1241.

They're little-known in the modern era since the AOC was granted only in 2009, recognizing an appellation officially created in 1951.

But for those who've eagerly followed the renewed interest in the earthy country wines coming out of the Loire, this lively red from Domaine Gardien Frères is a very worthwhile bottle to know for $17.

Made by two brothers on a fourth-generation family vineyard managed with minimal chemical intervention south of Moulin, the La Réserve du Domaine is a 50-50 blend of pinot noir and gamay.

They lend the wine a light ruby glow and medium-bodied weight, and the blend seems perfectly tuned - the gamay (best known for its use in Beaujolais) adding a bright-red raspberry tartness and earthy backnote, while the riper pinot lends a rounding kiss of darker sweet fruit, a touch of blueberry, perhaps, with a hint of vanilla and violets. It's soft enough to be delicious right out of the bottle, but a confident grip of acidity and light tannins make it pair very well with food - especially a recent winter meal of roast chicken with farro and greens.

- Craig LaBan
Domaine Gardien Frères Réserve du Domaine St. Pourcain 2014, $16.99 (code 99320) in Pennsylvania.