My Kind of Wine and My Kind of Town: Chinon

With 13% alcohol, silky tannins, and a bright, refreshing fruit, Saget La Perrière “Marie de Beauregard” Chinon is truly my kind of wine. And the beautiful city of Chinon is my kind of France….read on!

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Great wines often come from great places in the world. In the case of Chinon (above), I’m not merely talking about the slant of the sun and slope of the hills and the soil and the climate (i.e., those things that encompass  terroir). I’m talking about an overall vibe of a place: When everything comes together—a fresh sweetness in the air mixes with the weight of history, and good things on the plate and in the glass seamlessly meld with surrounding civic beauty. This, to me, is my memory of Chinon. Is it any surprise that I love the wine that is produced there?

Saget la Perrière "Marie de Beauregard" Chinon. 100% Cabernet Franc.

Saget la Perrière “Marie de Beauregard” Chinon. 100% Cabernet Franc.

We first went to Chinon at the tail end of a four-week trip through western France in the spring of 1997. My trip journal says much:

April 17, 1997: Went to Chinon, looked around. Thought it was lovely but we decided to check out Saumur, since the French Ministry of Tourism says it’s one of the eight places one must see in France. But Saumur is larger, the river isn’t as pretty, and our lunch was marred by a condescension we have not yet experienced this entire trip in the West. It felt all wrong.

So we drove back to Chinon. We’re staying in a Logis de France here, La Boule d’Or. We have a room overlooking the river Vienne. It’s one of those wonderful old spare-yet-tidy French hotel rooms you rarely find anymore: tall ceilings, flowered wallpaper, faded (yet immaculately clean) carpet, a little desk, French in-swing casing windows that open onto a tiny one-person-at-a-time balcony that overlooks the river. It’s our kind of France. We’ll stay here three nights ….

Now we’re sitting in the Café de la Paix, our third time here. It’s a wonderful corner cafe with tables across from the river and the Rabelais statue. Could sit here for hours. Probably will ….Bordeaux

Indeed, we must have spent much time just gazing and chatting and drinking our café until it was time to drink wine and move on to dinner, because my next entry isn’t until a few days later, on the plane home.

April 20, 1997: Somewhere over Newfoundland. Well, I should wrap this trip journal up. Thoroughly enjoyed Chinon. Spent a very mellow three days there and ate in our Logis each night. Each meal was better than the previous one. I particularly remember a semi-freddo of white chocolate, dark chocolate, and cherries with ice cream, whipped cream, and a touch of caramel sauce. Also had a fine croustillade with mushrooms. Dave had coq-au-vin, a Loire valley (and house) specialty that went amazingly with the local spicy-fruity red Chinon wine, which we’d never had before and we loved.

Minimal sightseeing in Chinon included Chinon’s ruined chateau and a day trip to Saumur to shop. Saumur is definitely overrated…shops were okay, but I think Chinon is much sweeter and more real. 

Enough about Chinon the town. What about Chinon, the wine?

Recently, my friends at Pasternak Wine Imports sent me a bottle of Marie de Beauregard Chinon wine to sample. This wine is made of 100% Cabernet Franc–a grape that most of us experience as part of a red blend (hello, Bordeaux!). But in Chinon, Cabernet Franc gets made into great, food-friendly wines that are often bright and juicy, with just the right acidity (that zip on the finish that makes it all go so well with food); the better these wines are, the more there’s some great structure and spice integrated into it all.

The importer sent me the wine as part of their “summer reds” program, and I can see why: The very fact that it’s not heavy and that it has that brightness on the finish makes it a shoo-in for those of us who drink reds all summer long. And yet, I will drink this in the winter, too….because it’s my kind of wine: A wine that doesn’t neither fatigues the palate with an over-ubandance of fruit, nor roughs up the tongue with overly muscular tannins. It’s all about balance.

I was glad to see that I’m not the only one who admires this wine. Check out the “shelf-talker” from Wine Spectator (above), which I grabbed from the Pasternak website. Note that this pertains to the 2011 vintage; I had the 2012—

Coq au Vin. Chinon would be kind of perfect with this.

Coq au Vin. Chinon would be kind of perfect with this.

What to Serve with Chinon:

My Coq au Vin, of course!
• Grilled meats with an array of French salads.
The Cheese Course.

PS: For more wines that are “my kind of wine,” see these posts:

Il Ugo Elderflower Cocktail (Beautiful for Summer!)
My Favorite Weekend French Wine
I can’t get enough of Savennières!

PS: This is the second in a new, occasional series called, “My Kind of Wine,” in which I detail a great wine that I’ve found. What makes this different than all the other wine recommendations out there? Hopefully, you’ll get to know my tastes, and you’ll know whether my tastes jibe with yours. Rather than reviewing for everyone, I’ll just review for us. More on this later! Also read my disclosures about wine samples and such, if this interests you. 

As always, I’d love to hear about wines (and places) you love. Post here, or find me on my facebook page.

 

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