The first red wine we sampled in the tasting group on April 13th (after the Sancerre, Chablis, Albariño, Pinot Grigio and Riesling) was a Cabernet Franc.
The Grape: Cabernet Franc
It is believed that Cabernet Franc originated in southern France and made its way to the north sometime in the 17th century. It is one of the parent grapes, along with Sauvignon Blanc, to Cabernet Sauvignon. While Cabernet Franc is known as one of the 6 Bordeaux varietals (where it is also known as Bouchet), it is only a second player to Merlot in any right bank blend. But in the Loire Valley (particularly in the Anjou, Bourgueil, Chinon, and Saumur-Champigny regions) Cabernet Franc is a star player. In Chinon Cabernet Franc is known as “Beurton”- pronounced “bur-tawn” with a slightly rolled “r”. It is also the major red grape in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil (where it is known locally as Breton) where it produces both red wine and rosé wines (about 2%). It is also an important grape in the Bergerac and Madiran AOCs. Cabernet Franc buds and ripens about two weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon so it tends to fair better in cooler climates and vintages. But is also tends to have more green vegetal notes.
The Region: Chinon
The Chinon AOC is located in the Touraine Region in the heart of the Loire Valley. The vineyards of the region cover the relatively steep banks of the Vienne as well as the less steep slopes running northward from the hills above Chinon to the Loire. The vineyards consist almost entirely of erosional scree and gravels on top of rather hard Turonian limestone. The red and rosé wines (about 2-5% of production) are made from Cabernet Franc with an allowance of 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. There is also a small amount of white wine produced from Chenin Blanc.
The Winery: Domaine Charles Joguet
Domaine Charles Joguet was founded by Charles Jogue. Jacques Genet became his partner in 1985 and has been the current owner for over a decade. When they became partners Jacques Genet added to the business a couple of acres of vines on the Monplaisir hillside and the land he owned in Beaumont-en-Véron, where they subsequently planted two dozen acres of Cabernet Franc. They also created a farming company (Société Civile d'Exploitation Agricole, SCEA) in order to further develop the previous efforts of Charles Joguet.
The 2011 Charles Joguet “Les Petites Roches” Chinon is an opaque red wine, dark purple at the core to ruby at the rim with medium+ viscosity. On the nose it has moderate intense aromas of dark juicy plums, jammy blackberries, cassis, clove, cinnamon, canned black olives, coffee grounds, ash, dried tobacco, tobacco leaves, a touch of roasted green bell pepper, and hints of spice. It is dry with medium to medium+ tannin, medium+ acidity, medium+ alcohol and medium+ length finish. This wine retails for about $21 per bottle.