The magical little medieval village of Chinon is the largest of the Loire Valley’s red wine appellations, with 5,000 acres of cabernet franc vineyards ranging along the banks of the River Vienne. Known locally by the grape name Breton, cabernet franc has been grown in the vicinity of Chinon since the ninth century. It produces a highly aromatic, delicate, crisp red wine ideal for springtime sipping and dining. There are nearly 300 grape growers here, and these three are among the finest.
Bernard Baudry “Les Granges,” Chinon, 2015
Baudry is a second-generation family estate that makes five different Chinons using a strict biodynamic
protocol in which grapes are trodden under foot to naturally initiate fermentation. Les Granges tastes bright and pure with spicy, earthy red-berry fruit. It’s soft and gentle in texture and has a nice accent of savory green herbs, tobacco and pepper on the finish. Red wine with fish, anyone?
$15, Bauer Wine & Spirits, Boston
Charles Joguet “Les Petites Roches,” Chinon, 2014
Joguet’s roots in Chinon agriculture date back 14 generations to 1693. The estate owns about 125 hillside vineyard acres near the Vienne River, imparting a supple, dark raspberry flavor to the gravelly chalky soils of “Les Petites Roches.” With floral aromas, it exudes berry fruit with hints of black olive, tomato, basil and rhubarb. This wine would be delightful with a tomato and fish stew.
$26, BRIX Wine Shop, Boston
Domaine Bouqueteau “Le Grand Bouqueteau,” Chinon, 2014
A perennial favorite in the classically lighter, more approachable style, this wine is bright and juicy on the palate, with notes of fennel, green pepper and blueberry. It can be served with a little chill (55 degrees) as the tannins are very low. Refreshing and bright, it’s good as an aperitif or with goat cheese salads.
$15, Marty’s Fine Wines, Newton