100% Cabernet Franc.
Studies suggest that Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
Cabernet Franc is the most important red grape of the Loire, and was thought to have been brought from there from the Bordeaux region. Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc are (arguably, as always) the most important white grapes in the region.
France tends to be a nightmare to understand when it comes to wine regions, and the Loire is no exception. Producers rarely label the grape varietal on the bottle, making things all the more difficult. Luckily things are changing, and the Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Granges does in fact list the Cabernet Franc grape on the label.
The grapes that go into this wine are some of youngest in the vineyard, indicating Les Granges as an entry-level wine for the Bernard Baudry estate. Older vines are used for his more premium bottling’s.
Bernard Baudry comes from a family of winemakers, and started his career as a wine consultant. After he studied oenology in Beaune (Burgundy region of France) he decided to start up his own small winery in 1975 with just 2 hectares of vines.
Place (click map for larger view)
The Loire Valley is an extremely large, but often over-looked wine region of France. The main wine produced in the Chinon region is from the Cabernet Franc grape.
The Loire is the longest river in France. Chinon is a town on the banks of the Vienne (a subsidiary of the Loire), and occupies approximately 4,500 acres (7 square miles).
The Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Granges 2008 is produced from 6 hectares (645,834 sq ft) of vines planted on the flood plains of the Vienne river. During heavy rains, the Vienne is known to burst its banks, in which case Bernard Baudry is known to harvest the vines from the comfort of a rowing boat!
There are two distinct soil types in the Loire which play a big role in determining the style of wine produced:
– Sand and gravel soils on the flood plains (as with the Les Granges), produce light, elegant wines for early drinking.
– Clay and limestone soils of the hillsides produce more full-bodied wines, capable of longer cellaring.
A beautifully bright crimson, the Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Granges shows a mixed lot of red fruits on the fairly restrained nose, with dried herbs and smoked meat.
Plenty of acidity from the get-go, leading me to believe this could still hold up to another year or 2 in the bottle. Sour cherry and ripe raspberry run through this wine, with a hint of blackberry in the middle, and a little forest floor and dried herbs toward the end. Almost shares the same body as that of a red Burgundy; fairly light, with a medium finish.
A good first-time Chinon, if you are looking to get into the region.
It’s been a little while since I’ve had French Cab Franc, and I forgot how vastly different they are from New World examples. A great little wine, but needs a good meal.
As always with these types of wines, try to think along the lines of the country / region from which the wine hails. You won’t go wrong with ham, game, stews, smoked meats, or barbecued foods.