One of the best-value French wines we've had all year!
Which is to say that it is one of the best-value wines from anywhere that we've had! A really delicious medium-bodied red from one of the Loire valley's brilliant villages, that delivers layers of flavour, complexity and a gorgeous, long finish that complex, intense and fantastically balanced. Acid and tannins are features of the Cabernet Franc grape and here they are excellent support characters rather than main stars: the dark fruit flavours really shine with spice nuance from oak barrels.
If you haven't tried Loire valley reds before, I seriously implore you to do so. This is one of the most approachable and rewarding that I've ever had at this price point. If, on the other hand, you know this region and its wonderful ability to expose unexpected superstars, then this one is for you too! A very welcome surprise addition to our collection - plus it's from a vintage showing impeccably well at the moment.
Made from Cabernet Franc in the small, brilliant village of Bourgueil, this wine is full of dark fruits and pencil-lead-like spice notes, without a significant herbaceous, green-leafy quality that marks out so many of its neighbours. Not that the green scale of flavours is a bad thing, just that this wine doesn't show them as much as the dark fruit. The complexity and layers a fruit and spice flavour really makes it wonderful to match with food.
This comes from one of the most wonderful clusters of villages in France for producing Cabernet Franc. Though probably originally from south of Bordeaux (where it is an important blending component), it is here, just off the Loire that Cabernet Franc has become red wine's shining star.
Never massively full-bodied and seldom made to be overtly powerful, theLoire delivers on the elegant and finesse parts of Cabernet Franc. Stylistically, it's a bit like a hybrid of the structure from cooler Bordeaux appellations with the complexity and elegance of Burgundy. The Loire is distinctly cooler climate and as a result there isn't as much warmth in the grapes, nor the resultant wines, but that's no bad thing (even if climate change is leading to more and more vintages with fuller, riper fruit). Alcohol levels are often more moderate and there is structure and complexity from the dark grape skins (certainly in the Cabernet Franc wines) that really makes them stand out in the crowd.
Cabernet Franc stands out on its own because of of its idiosyncrasies: tannic, dry, blackcurrant, redcurrant, leafy and above all else a sense of pencil lead and, in under-ripe vintages, green bell-peppers.
The red wines of the Loire can be light, fruity and fragrant, just as they can be darker and more extracted. This one is definitely on the darker and fuller side, but retains freshness and a sense of a lifted texture that really increases its approachability. Cabernet Franc is certainly a food wine in all of its styles and this one in particular would be a super match for game and cheeses as well as on its own.
Our match? Well, we've said this before but... if it's not duck, throw us baguette, some decent butter and a whack load of pâté.
Region: Loire Valley
Grape(s): Cabernet Franc
Style: Vibrant, Organic, Medium Bodied, Fresh, Complex, Bright
Best food matches: Venison, Tuna, Tapas, Roasts, Poultry, Mature Cheeses, Hard Cheeses, Grills, Duck, Cheeses, Charcuterie, Beef