Happy Wine Wednesday, people! Let's continue our Tour de France by talking about Loire Valley Reds. It's only fair to give the reds some love and, let me tell you, I am jazzed about these wines. My reasons are threefold: 1. They are all best, in my opinion, served slightly chilled (and you know how I love a frothy red). 2. They are perfect for enjoying outside with some delicious food pairings, and since the weather is (finally) here, I plan on doing a lot of this. 3. They are sort of the forgotten middle children when it comes to French red wines, and, well, I gotta support my peeps :)
The most important red wine grape to remember when thinking about Loire Valley red wine is Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc actually originates in Bordeaux and is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot in Bordeaux Blends, however, it is also used to create 100% Cabernet Franc wines in the Loire Valley. Cabernet Franc is lighter, less tannic and more acidic than both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and therefore acts as a great balancing agent when blended. On its own, it is a pale red wine that often carries notes of tobacco, white pepper, black currant and raspberry as well as some floral aromas. Most of these wines are great when consumed young, however, also have the structure to age and improve.
The most well known and largest appellation for Cabernet Franc in the Loire Valley is Chinon, producing slightly richer and more tannic Cabernet Franc wines than its neighboring appellation of Bourgueil. Although Chinon has a reputation of producing the highest quality red wines in the Loire Valley, in the past ten years Bourgueil producers have surely shown us red wines of equally fantastic quality that deserve a spot on any great red wine list. Additionally, because this area is not as well known as Chinon, I've found that the wines have incredible value.
Today I want to introduce you to a Bourgueil, a Sancerre Rouge and a Loire Valley Red Blend; three amazing Loire Valley red wines of varied body, grape, flavor and price point. Onward.
2010 Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Franc de Pied- This is a perfect example of why I love Loire Valley red wines. It's so elegant but also so interesting and the difference an hour makes after opening it is amazing. It has almost a musty funky taste initially but once it settles you'll taste juicy red fruit, spice, cloves and earth on the palate with great minerality and acidity that you often find in reds from the Loire Valley. This wine is delicious now but is so balanced and freshly acidic that it could age and improve for at least five more years. I might just have to pick up another bottle (or three) for the cellar.
This wine would be a great accompaniment to a cured meat and cheese board as well as oily fish like salmon or arctic char with some sort of beurre blanc or herb sauce. It would also pair well with grilled chicken or a lean hanger steak with a salsa or chimichurri sauce.
This wine can be found at J. Emerson's for $29.95
2014 J. Mourat Collection Rouge Red Blend- This wine is 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Negrette from the Fiefs Vendeens appellation of the Loire Valley. The wine is dark violet in color with medium body and notes of strawberry, cherry and spice on the palate. At just $14.95 this is a great everyday drinking wine and a total crowd pleaser. Keep your eyes peeled for both a white wine and a rosé by this same producer. I've tried all three and they are fantastic. They also have great packaging so would be a great wine to bring to a party.
This is a great wine for grilling out with BBQ, chicken, pork or game. It can stand up to those heavier flavors but is also refreshing and light enough to drink slightly chilled in warmer months.
This wine can be found a J. Emerson's for $14.95
Georges Roblin et Fils - Sancerre Rouge Chateau de Maimbray 2000- If you've never heard of Sancerre Rouge, I am pumped to be the one to introduce you to it. Sancerre Rouge wines are all 100% Pinot Noir grape and, of course, from Sancerre. Easy peasy, right?! Although they don't quite get the recognition of the Burgundian red wines, they are definitely worthy of your attention. These wines are juicy, medium to light bodied, and have a very specific earthy flavor as if you're actually tasting the soil.
Pair this wine with white fish, bacon wrapped scallops, linguine with shrimp or shellfish, patés or terrines. This wine will also be fantastic to drink on its own!
I am lucky enough to have a bottle of Georges Roblin et Fils - Sancerre Rouge Chateau de Maimbray 2000 in the cellar which I plan to open in the near future :)
I hope I've inspired you to get outside, start cooking and most importantly, start tasting some new wines! Cheers!