Chinon and Cabernet Franc

Charles Joguet ChinonThere often is not much to like about cabernet franc. Weedy and thin when over-cropped and unforgiving of cool vintage years, many wine drinkers pay it no mind – and for good reason. In northeastern Italy millions of bottles of unpleasant wine featuring pungent bell pepper flavors and aromas flood grocery stores under the generic “cabernet” label, while in its homeland of Bordeaux it only shows up as a high-tone highlight, except in some outstanding wines in St. Emilion. However, in the hands of a master with just the right vineyards, cabernet franc can touch some very unique points on your palate, if not the 100 point scale.

The domaine Charles Joguet is dedicated to terroir with individual plots fermented and bottled as individuals. As many as eight wines may be produced in a vintage – all 100% cabernet franc and each a distinct creation. The Joguet wines take cabernet franc to a mystical plane. These are intellectual wine that challenge your taste buds to dig into each furtive nuance. The aromatics are truly stunning with delicate layers teasing you nostrils and keeping your nose in you glass for minute-after-minute. The wines of the Loire are so often overlooked in today’s point driven world of wine sales and Chinon from producers such as Joguet will reward the adventurous palate. The hot 2003 vintage produced great wines in the cool Loire and the Joguet wines from this vintage are outstanding across-the-board.

Some current releases from Domaine Charles Joguet:

2003 Cuvée Terroir – An unoaked cuvée made for early drinking, but no simple quaffer. Brilliant purple/ruby with a fresh, zesty bright fruitiness balanced by a touch of mint and earth. You just keep going back for another glup. ($16)

2003 Varennes du Grand Clos — My favorite, this is really a lovely wine. Great complexity with stunningly elegant aromas and flavors. The nose is like a field of wild-flowers with hints of spices and red currents. A few more years of bottle age will create a delicately powerful masterpiece. As refined and silky as this wine is, there is plenty of concentration and backbone. It matched gorgeously with wood over roasted chicken and root vegetables. ($29)

2003 Clos du Chêne Vert – Deeper more brooding and decidedly more closed than the Varennes du Grand Clos, this is a wine that requires more years in the bottle before it opens. While the Grand Clos is all flowers and spice, the Chêne Vert is earthier and riper. Not to overstate the ripeness as the wine is still very balanced and well-structured. ($29)

Imported by Kermit Lynch