Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

Bourgueil vs. Chinon: Paging Jon Derry and Napa Girl

Posted by dmcker, Mar 15.

Coming directly off viewing two recent posts in the 'Whatcha drinking tonight?' thread, thought it might be interesting to do a virtual tasting amongst us wide-spread all of, say, a mini-vertical of two different Bourgueil reds vs. a mini-vertical of two different Chinon reds (if each of us could handle the logistics of opening, say, eight different bottles, though four might also work--if we were physically together I'd suggest 12 or more...). So many similarities between the two regions and their wine, so let's aim to find what the differences are?

Any takers?

Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 15.

Of course I'm interested. Was actually surprised when I came across those bottles last night as I'd assumed they were Chinon's after I bought them (was the last of my Garagiste purchases a year or two back) and I hadn't heard of Bourgueil (though I did appreciate how it started with "Bourg").

I'm interested in the 4 bottle plan most likely. Perhaps an '09 and '10 of each. Will see what I can find...going to avoid Baudry this time as I haven't loved the two I've had and ashamed to say they were my only two Chinon experiences.

I do own some Joguet, probably time to open some.

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Reply by gregt, Mar 15.

The Chinon is going to be better.  Or rather, since I don't know what the wines are, your odds are better with a Chinon than a Bourgueil.

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 16.

yeah.. I am into the Chinon for sure... I would be interested, but have to source.  For now, I am loving the Chinon I posted yesterday.  Just went and bought more today, and they are sold out now.  I got 2 bottles...

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 17.

Seems like I can source quite a few Bourgueli locally, which is a pleasant surprise. Some popular producers: Yannick Amirault, Pithon-Paille, Catherine & Pierre Breton

Should be fun to investigate, and works well with another project I'm working on.

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Reply by gregt, Mar 17.

You have several choices. I think Pithon-Paillé is kind of a négociant firm - husband and wife and son and his wife or something like that. That's not a bad thing, and in a way, may be more instructive than a single-parcel producer if you want to learn about the region, much like Duboeuf can be instructive if you want to learn about Beaujolais.

OTOH, I think Breton produces both Chinon and Bourgueil and a great way to learn about different regions is to remove all the variables except the region. So tasting wines from the same producer using the same grape but from different regions is a pretty interesting exercise IMHO. You may be able to do that with the other guys too - I don't really know as I haven't researched it, but that could be a pretty interesting tasting.

In any event, my money is on the Chinon.

 

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 17.

Was out of circulation for a couple of days. Greg, your expectations are the common-sense view of Bourgueil vs. Chinon, with most people expecting the latter to be better. However, personally I've had plenty-good Bourgueil in the past.

Within the next couple of days I should be able to scope out the usual-suspect sources in Tokyo to see what my options are. Four bottles is obviously more logistically reasonable, but less depth or breadth for comparison. I like your idea, Greg, about using the Breton's as a touchstone for both regions. Just don't know what I'll find in Tokyo. Would be surprised if I don't find some Joguet on the ground somewhere, at the least. Would be ideal if we all had four of the same bottles, but may have to compromise depending on what I find.  ;-(

Greg, you in on this, too?

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Reply by gregt, Mar 18.

I wouldn't mind but how? Where the hell am I ever going to find Chinon in SD?

I'm just going from memory! Should have brought back some Chinon when I was in NYC last week. Even harder if everyone is doing the same wines, which is a great idea.

Can't debate you regarding the relative merits of the two regions as I've not had all that much great Bourgueil but I would expect that like everywhere else, there's constant improvement and it's worth re-visiting. That's what makes wine fun though - the continual confounding of our expectations.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 18.

Greg, comeon now.  San Diego ain't Timbucktu!  Perhaps another part of the NYC experience to transition away from is that terminal criticality!  ;-)  ;-)

Can't help it--too easy to ride you on this one. ;-)  Though I seriously understand. Tokyo, NYC and London (in that order) are the cities in the world I find to have the most energy and depth of sophisticated diversity. Bay Area would be right up there if a) it wasn't so dispersed (even makes LA look concentrated), and b) it wasn't in California, of California and making California, a culture unique on this earth.

Those big 3 aren't necessarily the best places to live longer term, but that's another subject.

Would be very surprised if you can't find some Chinon in the area. Perhaps a good opportunity to start qualifying local vendors. Bets should probably be off on the Bourgueil, but that's what places like KL are for...

Who was the winemaker based in the Loire, also with a name like Catherine and part of a husband-and-wife team, who used to post here in the forum maybe four or more years ago? Would be interesting to get her input if at all possible, whether on stylistic issues or good bottles to target.

Napagirl, weren't you considering visiting her over there at one point?

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Reply by gregt, Mar 18.

It ain't Timbucktu but it's full of BevMo! They buy juice, put their labels on it, rate it 92 points, and offer a second bottle for a nickel. Then there are the supermarkets, which are probably better than those in most states. I''m not a member of Costco so can't shop there. I found a couple little local places, but they tend to be combo wine bars/stores and they struggle to have some kind of "vibe" so there's music, chaos, an uber-cool feel, and astoundingly overpriced wine. Up in LA it is quite a bit better and there are some outstanding stores there but that's several hours in stalled freeways.

I walked into one of the smaller boutique-type places recently and they were pouring a few wines at the wine bar. I asked what they were pouring and she told me, "A Rhone, that's from France, and a Chianti, and a Tempranillo, that's from Spain."  She asked if I'd like a glass of one and really pushed the Tempranillo. It was Protos. I said it was OK, I'd find something else.

She suggested that I should expand my palate.

!

Now if she had been pouring a CA Tempranillo I probably would have tried it.

But as you say, there are balances here. Wine isn't the sole point of our existence, although it's a big part of it. So they can't compete with places like NYC and London for wine - that's OK. Those places can't compete for the general quality of life.

In fact, while I'm thinking about it, there may be a reason there's just not much Chinon here. the place is too nice to need that kind of austere self-improvement approach to wine!!

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 18.

Greg, there are a couple wine shops in San Diego that should suit your needs, or at least one of these should. Lets start with the most likely...Ive pondered making the drive from San Clemente many times.

Vintage Wines 6904 Miramar Rd. #101 - San Diego, 92121

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 18.

I'm no expert on Loire reds, but I confess to liking them a lot and drinking them more often than the average West Coast wine drinker.  My own take is that the quality level for both Chinon and Bourgueil (and St. Nicholas de Bourg) is pretty dependent on the maker.  Prices for Bourgueil (wait for huge generalization) are just a tad lower because the region is even more obscure in the US.  I've had disappointing Chinons (Clos de L'Echo, for just one) and some really good ones.  I've even had some really good CF from Saumur. 

And then there's CF from Cali and Washington--one of the best I've had for the buck was Canoe Ridge up that way. 

I am imagining the Orange County (Emark and Lingprof host) Cab Frank Throwdown. 

GregT, that poor woman had no idea who she was dealing with, but it's a tribute to your adaptability, not her ignorance, that, notwithstanding your pallor from not being able to tan for most of the harsh NY winter, she didn't immediately single you out but instead treated you like the rest of her SD resident customers, who might not know the Rhone from the Rhine. 

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Reply by gregt, Mar 19.

Went back today. She's having a tasting of Hungarian wines. But she doesn't have any. So she's buying some for the tasting. I told her that if she gives me 2 weeks I'd do the tasting for her. No idea what she's going to taste and I know for certain that she doesn't know anything about the country or the wines. But oh well.

Reason I went is because I was looking for a Chinon. They had Baudry's basic one at $22. It's a $14 or $15 wine. Good enough actually and i drink it. But that was it! Nothing else. So I'm going to try Jon's suggestion.

Now as far as CF from elsewhere, I once introduced Pam Starr to Bernard Baudry at a portfolio tasting. They both do Cab Franc, albeit completely differently. But I like both. Chappellet does one of the best in CA IMHO and there are some other very credible ones. Very different from Saumur or Chinon of course, and sometimes you don't even know that it's CF you're drinking, but the good ones seem to get it in a way that lets them keep the CF qualities w/out losing the CA qualities. Same with Washington. When done right, it's one of my favorite things to drink. But I've had plenty of them and would drink them for pleasure. I'm really interested in the Chinon vs Bourgueil idea, because it's something I've never done before and it could be a learning experience. Problem is that I don't want to open multiple bottles for myself! It's the kind of thing best done in company.

Provided one has the wines, of course.

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 19.

I forgot to give you the other San Diego store...this one actually looks to have a bigger selection. 4 Chinon's compared to 1, wow. Ultimate Wine

With San Diego lacking in diversity, maybe we should just get together and taste in OC or LA? 

 

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Reply by gregt, Mar 19.

Jon - Ultimate Wine is in New Jersey. I know them pretty well. They always have a selection of free-shipping wines. They're about 20 minutes south of Wine Library. Lots of wine stores near them about fifteen, twenty minutes. But doing the tasting somewhere non-virtual is a splendid idea.

I don't know, maybe I'll take a long drive one day soon. Winex and K+L both have quite bit of both Chinon and and Bourg. Although it might just be cheaper to have them shipped down.

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 19.

Sorry Greg, I shouldn't go posting so late. 

Here it is, the Wine Connection

They score a little better on the Chinon scale at 7 wines, 4 producers. Found this place by searching 2011 Marcarini Barbera. Enjoyed it at a restaurant recently and they're one of the few to have it stateside.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 19.

KLwines looks like a star in comparison to those options of yours, JD.  ;-)

But all are better than the brick-and-mortar options I've visited in Tokyo. Went to three yesterday that I had hopes for. No Chinon (and one of them used to carry Joguet regularly--only questionable Saumur and Touraine these days--multiple cot and gamay options, but no CF--wtf?), and at one of them they thought Bourgueil was in Italy.  ;-(

Off further afield in the next day or two. Hopefully will find something reasonable, but it seems I'm likely to be faced with very limited options.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 19.

"one of them they thought Bourgueil was in Italy.."

That's only fair:  I was called for jury service last summer, and who did I wind up sitting next to in the waiting room but a young sommelier who worked as an assistant somm at Meadowood.  We got to talking about wines and I said that the Bay Area has a really limited selection of Italian wines.  Even the specialists stick to well known regions, and I lamented that I really like Ghemme as an early drinking, reasonably priced alternative to Barolo and Barbaresco.  He said, "Yeah, you only get that in France."  Even after ten minutes talking about Italy, he thought of the Gamay grape, not the DOCG in Piemonte.  Which kind of proved my point. 

I don't know if it's a fair trade, Ghemme for Bourgueil.  I like them both but...

so GregT, any more info about this wine bar that you are frequenting?  I think you ought to come clean--you wrote the webpost on Hungarian wine, after all, even if I can't find it, and are a go-to source for others. You might single-handedly change the wine culture of SD.

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Reply by gregt, Mar 20.

Not frequenting! I don't want to be a jerk and knock them. Maybe they're doing the best they can. The manager/owner has to work on her social skills though. She's not particularly welcoming. Just a perfunctory "can I help you?" and no further engagement.She demonstrates no passion at all, which is kind of deadly. Maybe there's no market. So what. Her job is to make the market. I've never seen more than one other person in there. A lot of the other places seem more like frat parties than anything else. Wine is there because they want alcohol but it could be anything really - cheap beer would be just as satisfactory.

I'm sitting at home right now with a fino and wondering if there is anyone in the city who drinks sherry.

Anyhow, it might just be that my perspective is skewed. Maybe this is normal and I'm just the odd one out.

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 20.

San Diego is just kind of like that unfortunately. There's a decent music scene, and some good food, weather, but it's the surf/ frat scene that's hard to shake. I was there for college for years and grew tired of it by the second year.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 20.

Lots of people who drink sherry in Tokyo. And a hell of a lot easier to find good sherry than good Loire red.  Two more shops, two more strikes (five so far, hope I get a hit before the inning ends). Smatterings of whites and roses, no Loire CF to save my life. I could've found more 20 years ago, far more easily, than in 2014. Says something about evolution of the wine market in Japan, I suppose.

So Greg, do I sense you working yourself up into a mood to moonlight at a wineshop in SD?

 

 

"San Diego is just kind of like that unfortunately. There's a decent music scene, and some good food, weather, but it's the surf/ frat scene that's hard to shake. I was there for college for years and grew tired of it by the second year."

All the people I know who went to school in San Diego were either math and IT wizzes, on sports scholarships, or wanted to head to Baja for the surf-beer-tequila-and-more whenever they had the chance. Is San Diego St. still the 2nd biggest party school in the US (after Chico St. up north)? Was for forever.

Next I suppose we can suggest Greg check out the Navy bar scene...

 


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