Tasing Provence and The Loire


So it was time to explore France via the east village. One night last week Gal, Mr. Wolf and myself popped two bottles of French wine. First up was a rose form Provence. The producers name is Chateau Rouet and it was a blend of 60% granache and 40% syrah and had a beautiful pink color and a wacky curvaceous bottle. It was also a reserve (for rose…pretty cool). Next was a bottle of 1990 chinon 100% cab franc from the Loire region of France. The Loire is mostly known for their whites but who can pass up a $40 1990 from France. It was worth the risk.
The rose came first and we were pleasantly surprised. It was a well balanced and had all of its parts in place. The way I drink and think about rose is that it should be drank and not thought about. I believe people know right away whether a rose is right for them or not. With reds (especially) and whites it could take a bit of contemplation and verbalization before giving it a definitive yeah or nay. This rose was also not only from two of my favorite grapes but also from Provence; an area of France known for it’s wonderful rose. And at $13 it is so worth it. I wanted to keep the bottle and do something with it like a decoration or something because it was so unique.
Next up was the mystery wine. I had tried Cab francs from Italy, Cali and New York State but not from where it was born, France. Of course I had tried it in Bordeaux blends but that is another story altogether. The rose was familiar because it was summer and I had tried a lot of rose form all over the wine regions of the world. They are, for the most part, inexpensive so I went into the chateau Rouet with some fresh knowledge. We popped that puppy and poured a tasting amount. I was struck by the lightness. The color wasn’t too light per se it was just that I could tell that it was light in body just by swirling it and coating the sides of the glass before taking in the aromas.
Speaking of aromas on the first nose I was confused. I smelled the vegetal cab franc signature note but it was much more pronounced than I was used to. And we had just opened the bottle. It stayed that way for a while and we sat back waiting for more to happen as oxygen played with the wine. Gal was torn. He liked it because it was what it was but his face just as perplexed as mine. Mr. Wolf was enjoying the journey of this wine picking off tasting notes as Gal and sat and thought whether we liked it or not.
I wish there was more to say about this wine but there really isn’t. I was not too impressed with it. There is a reason this wine was $40 as a 1990. It wasn’t horrible but I wouldn’t go back to it again. I thin Gal came around to Mr. Wolf’s side in the end. I can say something about cab franc in the Loire though. I was reading a great article in The Saturday Financial Times a couple of weeks ago about the state of Loire cab Franc today. The article mentioned that the Loire, because it is known mostly for its Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc wines cab franc has seen a decline on an already low export rate. Well, this apparently troubled the Loire producers and the board of producers in the region got together and hired an expert (I believe his name is Sam Harrop) to come in and help them acclimate better to their terrior. And apparently it is working.
The article stated that before 2003 the general rule with cab franc in the Loire was to pick when the grapes were quite green and press them to within and inch of their lives. This I believe added to the vegetal notes in the wine that we tried. The piece is very informative and if you can get it online I highly recommend reading it but to maker a long story short, This expert convinced the producers of cab in the Loire to lower there yields and pick according to the weather and pay attention to the heat and sun and as a result, apparently the 03, 04 and 05 vintages are showing quite well. I am curious and will be rummaging around for one of those vintages.

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