Chinon is an appellation in the Loire valley of France – and it’s just about the only appellation in the region that makes almost exclusively red wines. The Loire is best known for Chardonnay, Sauvingon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne. Chinon wines are typically straight Cabernet Franc (although up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon is allowed) – this bottle is 100% Cab Franc.
Marie de Beauregard (2014) Chinon, France – $20
Color: quite dark, purplish black – a good sign that this is made from very ripe, concentrated grapes, so it should avoid the off-putting green bell pepper notes that are sometimes found in Cab Franc.
Aroma: bingo! Ground black pepper, earthy notes of leather and mushroom, and some dark berry fruit underneath that. I’m really looking forward to the next step…
Taste: classic Cabernet Franc, this is an excellent example of the Chinon style. Blackberries and black pepper, with moderate acidity and medium tannins on the front and sides. This could be aged for another 4 years, but it’s certainly drinkable now.
Pairing suggestions: straightforward roast beef or leg of lamb – something with some fatty richness to ameliorate the tannins; and the earthy notes would work wonders with the mushrooms in Beef Wellington. Also consider medium-rich cheeses like crottins de chevre (aged goat cheese medallions), Mimolette, or Gloucester.
Highly recommended! Imported by Pasternak Wines, and they distribute in all 50 states.
One of my favorite styles of white wine from the Loire Valley in France. This is the 2012 from the Muscadet Sevre et Maine appellation, and it’s sur lies. That means that the dead yeast cells were kept in the bottom of the barrels for some time – as the yeast breaks down, it lends some wonderful bready, toasty notes to the wine. I’m having this with one of my Grilled Caesar Salads that I blogged about last week.
Color: a very pale gold color.
Aroma: a classic nose – melons and a touch of grilled bread.
Taste: right up front it has a nice acidic start, followed immediately by some mineral notes and a lemony taste in the mid-palate. The sur lies character isn’t as noticeable on the palate until the very finish.
$9 from Trader Joe’s – serviceable enough, but I generally like my Muscadets a little thicker and heavier in the mouth.
I’ve long maintained that winemakers in the Ohio Valley – from the eastern stretches of Kentucky to the Mississippi River – should look to the Loire in France as a model for winemaking. Here’s why.
Both rivers run along the boundary between a glacial plain and an uplifted limestone region, with outcroppings of harder igneous and metamorphic rock scattered throughout.
Both regions are continental in climate, with some maritime/lake influence. Thus they both have summers that are hot and humid, winters that are cold and wet, and concerns about frost in the spring.
Given that, it’s no surprise that the best vitis vinifera red in the Ohio Valley is Cabernet Franc. Brown County, Ohio has 3 award-winning Cabernet Franc producers (Meranda-Nixon, Kinkead Ridge, and La Vigna). Huber Winery in southeastern Indiana provided the initial plantings for Cab Franc growers in Lodi, and still provides library wines to them today.
So my challenge to the wineries in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois: show me what you can do with Chenin Blanc!