Cabernet Franc is well suited to cool climate regions, such as New York State and Ontario, but the “mother ship” for this red grape is Chinon.
A Loire Valley Red
Chinon is one of the few villages in France’s Loire Valley that focuses on red wines. The wine region is centered near Touraine and some believe that it offers the best wines in the Loire Valley.
We are big fans of Cabernet Franc, and so I was pleased to learn that Chinon would be a “wine of the week” for my Certified Specialist of Wine class. The course is a self-directed study that leads to a rather intense certification test. I’ve been participating in a 12-week online class that reviews the material we are supposed to master in the textbook. The class is entertaining and educational – even more so because we are drinking wine during it.
Who’s Your Daddy?
When you mention Cabernet, most wine lovers assume you are talking about Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is actually the “parent” of Cab Sauvignon, which is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s roots are in Chinon and it is one of the approved grapes for Bordeaux wines.
Over the years we have sampled a lot of Cab Franc and especially love its peppery finish. It’s weather-heartiness and early ripening makes it ideal for cool climate wine regions like Ohio, Michigan or New York State.
This Chinon comes from the villages of Rivière, Beaumont-en-Véron and Savigny-en-Véron. The soils there produce wines that are a bit more approachable with soft tannins and nice fruit.
In the glass the Chais Saint-Laurent is ruby in color. Swirling produces “legs” on the glass. In the glass there are aromas of raspberry and earth.
This is a smooth and soft wine – no harsh tannins here! There are delectable flavors of black cherry, cocoa and raspberry. Some Cab Franc has green pepper notes. Green Dragon is not a fan of green pepper and, indeed, if there is too much taste of green pepper it can be a wine fault indicating use of unripened grapes. The Chais Saint-Laurent has a touch of spice, but nary a green pepper.
The French Chinon is lighter in body than many US Cab Francs I’ve sampled. This makes it a great food wine for pork and veal dishes or even a hearty-style grilled chicken. It is also a good pick while dining out.