Tasting Group: Loire Valley Cabernet Franc



By Kori ~ September 28th, 2010.

Since we live in Washington State and often drink wines from Washington State, we want to make sure that we continue to hone our knowledge of the entire world of wine and maintain well-rounded palates in order to make us even more objective when we evaluate wines from Washington State. Therefore, we are thoroughly enjoying our Wine Peeps Tasting Group which includes what we think is an excellent peer group of knowledgeable wine lovers to taste, share, and learn more about wine together. Unlike our monthly wine tasting dinners in which the guests rotate, this tasting group includes people who are committed to getting together once a month which we believe benefits all of us. In addition to trying varieties and regions that we do not taste frequently, the other main difference between this group and our wine tasting dinners is that each group member brings a bottle consistent with the month’s theme so no one knows all the wines in the blind tasting.

Last week, we met and explored Cabernet Franc from France’s Loire Valley. The Loire Valley is France’s third largest wine region. It is a long, narrow region that runs predominately east/west along the Loire River. The region spans about 600 miles. There is great diversity in Loire Valley wines due to its wide range of microclimates. Loire Valley wines are very food-friendly and are the most popular wines ordered in restaurants in France. In the Loire Valley, “Cabernet” means Cabernet Franc. It was the Loire’s first red grape variety, and it thrives there. Known for its earth, spice, and red fruit characteristics, Cabernet Franc is the red grape variety used to produce wines in Chinon, Bourgueil, Saumur, Saumur-Champigny, and Anjou, among others.

We tasted eight bottles of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, and the consensus favorite was the 2006 Domaine Jo Pithon Anjou. This tasting proved to be a good palate check for me as this wine was my favorite (and the group’s favorite) in this blind tasting and was also my favorite at the recent Loire Valley Wines trade tasting.

I must admit that this tasting was a pleasant surprise for me. I have not always been a big fan of varietal Cabernet Franc, particularly from France, but have preferred it when used as a blending grape. However, this was probably the best overall set of wines we’ve had in one of our tasting group meetings. I look forward to trying some of these wines again with food as I can certainly see why they are so popular in restaurants in France. Not only are they food-friendly wines, but also they can be more pocketbook-friendly than wines from other regions in France.

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2006 Domaine Jo Pithon Anjou (Anjou, Loire Valley, France): Deep, dark ruby red. Aromatic with cream, butter, herbal, cola, and floral aromas on the nose. Red and black fruits and more herbal notes on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high tannins. Extremely well-balanced and smooth with a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin (Seattle, Washington), $29

2007 Bernard Baudry Les Grezeaux Chinon (Chinon, Loire Valley, France): Medium, ruby red. Aromatic with cherry pie, red fruit, barnyard, green vegetable, and savory aromas. Cherry pie, earth, green vegetables, wet stone, and white pepper come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and crisp with medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $30; Available elsewhere, $25

2006 Marc Bredif Chinon (Chinon, Loire Valley, France): Deep, ruby garnet in color. Aromatic with earth, red fruit, floral, and vegetal aromas on the nose. Fruit-forward with red fruits, green bell pepper, mint, and a hint of earth on the palate. Medium-bodied and smooth with high, drying tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $18; Available elsewhere, $17 to $20

2007 Bernard Baudry Le Clos Guillot Chinon (Chinon, Loire Valley, France): Medium, ruby red. Aromatic with cherry pie, red fruit, barnyard, and earthy aromas. Red fruits, earth, green vegetables, and eucalyptus come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and crisp with medium to high, drying tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $31; Available elsewhere, $25 to $30

2005 Domaine Les Grandes Vignes Les Cocainelles Anjou-Villages (Anjou-Villages, Loire Valley, France): Dark, purplish red. Nice nose with aromas of earth, herbs, green vegetables, cinnamon, and clove. Flavors of black fruits, coffee, mint, and spice. Full-bodied and lively with chewy tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Whole Foods (Seattle, Washington), $24

2008 Charles Joguet Cuvee Terroir Chinon (Chinon, Loire Valley, France): Deep, ruby red. Aromatic with red cherry, earth, and tea aromas. Red fruits, rubber, tar, tea leaves, and earthy and vegetal notes come through on the palate. Medium-bodied and lively with medium, drying tannins, and a long, slightly bitter finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Pike & Western Wine Shop (Seattle, Washington), $22; Available elsewhere, $17 to $24

2009 Cave des Vignerons de Saumur Lieu-Dit Les Vignoles Saumur-Champigny (Saumur-Champigny, Loire Valley, France): Deep, purplish ruby red in color. Butterscotch and very ripe red cherries on the nose; green vegetables, oak, barnyard, and jammy red fruits on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium to high, drying tannins, and a long, slightly bitter finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin (Seattle, Washington), $13

2006 Henri Bourgeois Le Pigeonnier Bourgueil (Bourgueil, Loire Valley, France): Deep, ruby red. Aromas of red and black fruits, pencil lead, mint, eucalyptus, and stinky feet. Flavors of earth, eucalyptus, and cherries. Medium to full-bodied and lively with chewy, drying tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Pete’s Wine Shop (Seattle, Washington), $15


Filed under: Cabernet Franc, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, French Wine, Red Wine, Tasting Group, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. fredric koeppel | September 28th, 2010 at 7:28 am

    you had a great line-up of v. respectable producers, but Jo Pithon is special.

  2. Kori | September 28th, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Fredric,
    You are absolutely right. Thanks for stopping by; I have great respect for you and your writing. Cheers!

  3. Loire Wine Spectator | December 18th, 2013 at 5:51 am

    We like so much you Blog, in fact we are a group of wine students in Bordeaux, we created a amazing Blog about Loire Valley Wine, we wish we can help more and more people to know this magical wine region and let them understand the mystery of Loire wine. In our Blog, You can find appellation explication, food&wine matching, wine tasting suggestion, and all of information about Tasting Salon in Loire Valley.
    We’ve just written un article about Three great Sauvignon regions that we have forgotten
    We hope you will like it.

    Loire Wine Spectator
    5alcolique@gmail.com
    http://loirespectator.blogspot.fr

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