The other day someone asked me what my favorite wine was. Of course I couldn’t narrow it down to just one, or one style, but the red wines of France’s Loire Valley were some of the first to come to mind as I scrambled to pick a few favorites.
Although the region has some very interesting, but often hard to find, Malbec, locally called Cot, and Pinot Noir, the ones that I had in mind were the Cabernet Franc based wines of Saumur Champigny and Chinon. What’s great about these wines is the purity of their flavors and how multidimensional they can be. On top of a characteristically firm mineral structure, you’ll find ripe black and red berry fruit tones, as well as any number of secondary notes, ranging from forest tones to bakery spices. This layering of flavors combined with their lively acidity makes these wines widely versatile for food pairing too, going especially well with grilled dishes.
Wine #1: Clos de la Perruche 2009 Saumur Champigny
This wine’s nose is defined by an enticing combination of red fruit and bakery tones. Frosted cinnamon buns, cherries, and plums drive the aroma, while very subtle notes of stone and dried leaves open up with a spin in the glass.
Juicy and fresh on the palate, this wine has lots of cherry and berry tones with a strong, wet stone minerality that supports the fruit. Subtle forest notes and hint of berry leaves also appear around the edges. This is a nicely balanced, clean, and fresh example of the varietal.
Worth Trying. 88 points.
Wine #2: Thierry Germain 2009 Saumur Champigny
Intriguing, almost smoky notes of black pepper, violet candies, and black currant bush introduce the aroma. Black olive, dark red rose petals, and a faint dark chocolate and crunchy caramel tone open up too, making this wine very inviting.
Silky, smooth, and supple on the palate, it’s got a great intensity, precise acidity, and an ever present minerality. Black stone, deep black currant notes, and a combination of dried forest berries and dried black currant leaves come together with a subtly peppery edge. This is a very solid wine with great complexity and expression of place.
Worth Buying. 91 points.
Wine #3: Cuvee Signee 2009 Chinon
Tart wild cherry tones, a deep dark forest berry note, and a violet-like floral streak introduce and drive the nose. There is also a firm wet stone and forest air quality at the core of this wine that gives it a great sense of place.
The palate shows the classically reserved, tight, and minerally quality that’s so easy to love about red Loire wines. Wild cherries, forest berries, black tea leaves, tart cherries, blackberry leaves, and layers and layers of stone unfold one after another. Striking a great balance between just ripe berry fruit and a tart juiciness, this is a fresh, smooth, and nicely integrated pour that would be great with a variety of dishes, especially from the grill.
Worth Trying. 90 points.
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The Grapevine: Have you ever had a Cabernet Franc? What were your thoughts?