Wine Talk

Snooth User: napagirl68

Ok, I'm ready... give me decent, easy to find Loire cab francs...

Posted by napagirl68, Dec 28, 2010.

Dmcker... hope you are reading :-)  And the rest of you as well.

LOVE  cab franc... hard to do single varietal, hard to find.  My current favs are Robert Sinskey's Vandal Vineyards CF and the 2006 Napa Stonefly CF. 

So far, I have tasted a few Chinons- forgive me if I get some of the labels wrong... I am new to the French, having drank CA wine for the past 20 something years!

2004 Chinon Domaine de Beasejour (sp)  and

2006 Les Chiens Domaine de la Noblaie

The first I tasted at a high-end Asian fusion restaurant in SF, and I really liked it, especially with our food.

The second was sold to me by my local wine shop a year ago.  When I opened it, it was corked.  I exchanged it for another bottle of the same.  It was ok.  Lighter and less complex than the CFs I like from CA.

That's about it for my tasting history of Chinon.  Any recommendations?  I was not too enthralled with these two overall.  Would prefer price point to be under $50 USD and to be relatively available...



Reply by GregT, Dec 29, 2010.

Napagirl - VERY different from what happens to CF in CA.  A few years ago I introduced Pam  Starr, who makes a great CF for Crocker and Starr, to Bernard Baudry, who is one of the top producers in the Loire.  Neither could make a wine like the other if they tried.  Pam, who is one of my fave winemakers, knew his wine - he didn't know hers but was curious about it.

In Chinon you'll have much higher acidity, or at least apparent acidity, lighter body, and in the best ones, an ashy and earthy kind of quality on the nose.

So you may start by trying Baudry's wines.  He does a few, mostly based on where his soils are - one is more granite, one gravelly, etc.  Those are my go-to wines every year.  The Les Granges is from the gravelly shore of the river and sometimes gets flooded out if the river rises.  Hard to think of a better value in the wine world - for $14 or so you get a first class wine.  Les Grezeaux is from vines that are a little older, also from gravelly soil, and you can age that wine.

His top wines are Clos Guillot and La Croix Boisée, both from more chalky soil - the latter from older vines.  He and other people in Chinon think that the limestone makes a big difference. I'm always skeptical about that kind of stuff, but the wines are pretty good.  The wines go for up in the higher $20s.

Then there's Raffault - they seem to be pretty available.  Jean-Maurice Raffault makes some pretty nice stuff - he harvests later than most people and is one of the few who ages his wines in barrels. His Les Galuches is from gravelly soil, Les Picasses from chalk.  They're slightly riper than other Chinons but nothing like CA, and they often have dark black cherry notes along with the standard CF herbs, ash, ground, etc. Worth looking for.  He does a wine from a vineyard called Clos d'Isore that's really good - needs a few years to really show however.  But if you want to age it, you'll be happy you did.  Olga Raffault tends to have a little more funk in her wines, at least for me.

Stepping up, IMO, would be Charles Jouget.  That's serious Loire wine.  And just as good is Rougeard, but that's from Saumur, not Chinon.  It's a bigger place, and maybe better-known, but right next door and you may as well explore those wines too.

The best may be Le Bourg, which comes from a small vineyard of old vines. From a more sandy vineyard is Les Poyeux.  Both of those are most excellent for ageing - if you can get one with 15-20 years, those are some of the best iterations of CF from the Loire IMO. To get something that good, you'd have to go to Bolgheri!

I know both of the wines you mention, had the 2007 Noblaie a couple weeks ago.  Found it to be a straight down the middle cab franc – herbs, a bit of grass, some sour cherry, lean acidity all the way through that lingered on the finish, altogether pretty decent wine.  So if you like that, try some of the above.  


Reply by napagirl68, Dec 29, 2010.

Thanks for all that great info, GregT!  I will begin to look into sourcing some of your recommendations.  Great comments...

You mention you know both wines I had, and you commented on the Noblaie.  Do you remember your thoughts on the 2004 Chinon Domaine de Beasejour?  Just curious, as I remember liking that one a bit better, but it could have been the food pairing....

Reply by napagirl68, Dec 29, 2010.

GregT- THANK YOU for the recommendations... great comments.  I will look to source some of your suggestions as I can.

You mentioned you've tasted both wines I mentioned... Thanks for the comments on the Noblaie.  Do you remember your thoughts on the 2004 Chinon Domaine de Beasejour?  I ask because I liked that one a bit better, but it could have been the food pairing, of course.

Reply by GregT, Dec 30, 2010.

I had the Noblaie recently, the Beauséjour was some time ago so I don't know that I'm capable of comparing them in any useful way, but it was for me, a little more tannic, had some green notes, and I liked the other more.  However, that may have been the vintage and I can't remember having had the 2006 Beauséjour.  As much as I love the 2004 in the S. Rhone, maybe it was a little bit too lean in the Loire. 

Some people disagree, and I suppose I should taste the wines side by side to have anything worth contributing, but I wasn't all that crazy about 2004 in the Loire and Beaujolais.  It came after the ripe and warm 2003 and it was cold and rainy and everyone talked about how it was "saved" in the early fall, but to me that's damned with faint praise.  It usually means it wasn't a complete loss and they didn't have to sell the grapes for compost. 

Sorry if I can't be more help on that wine - maybe dmucker or someone else can. 

BTW - not sure if I was clear or not but the Poyeaux and the Le Bourg are both made by Rougeard.  They can be pricey but they're worth it.

Reply by napagirl68, Dec 30, 2010.

Thank you, thank you, GregT!  Sorry for the double post... darned snooth didn't show the first so I reposted...  DRAT!! 

Good vintage info... I will begin my research/search!

Reply by GregT, Dec 30, 2010.

Love that Snooth feature!

Anyhow - I'm way out of my league w the Loire but as you know, grapes need time to mature.  So if you start cold and don't have great weather for most of the summer but then have good weather for harvest except for a little rain here and there, it's a problem in places like Long Island or the Loire Valley that it wouldn't be in warmer, sunnier places.  But if you can find wines from 2002, get them.  That vintage was horrible in much of the south but pretty nice in the Loire.  So you have a happy coincidence - wines that are typically not all that pricey to begin with combined with a vintage that is often dismissed for the entire country by people who don't know better.


Reply by JonDerry, Dec 30, 2010.

Greg - Thanks for mentioning of Crocker & Starr - reminds me I need to try more of their wines. 

Reply by napagirl68, Jan 1, 2011.

Thanks for all the suggestions.. will try to procure...

Reply by The Gourmet Bachelor, Jan 1, 2011.

Napagirl,  I've been really impressed with Long Island Cabernet Franc. For me, 100% French cab franc can taste a little austere. A bit rough around the edges. Took a while for me to warm up to them.   It's definitely a great food wine. I pair it with my Korean BBQ in TGB cookbook. I've enjoyed several bottles of LI Cab Franc just relaxing at home after work. They tend to be more concentrated and less tannic but still deliver on flavor. Found a few at

Reply by VitaVinifera, Jan 2, 2011.

I'm from Long Island and will definitely recommend LI Cabernet Franc.  They are readily drinkable and won't break the bank.

There was recently a 93-point Gabby's Cab Franc from Roanoke Vineyards, but I'm pretty sure it's sold out.

Paumanok Wines & Pellegrini Vineyards rank up as two of my favorite LI wineries, and the Francs are both available and good to go.

I'm definitely going to try some of the Loire recommendations above though.

Reply by GregT, Jan 2, 2011.

Paumanok is fine and in fact they make one of the best whites on LI - their Chenin Blanc.  I think they're the only ones who do that grape too.  Their Riesling is pretty good too. 

But while they're good wines and I consider the folks at Paumanok friends, the red wines from the Loire offer better values than almost any wine from LI, which is unfortunately much more expensive than the Loire.

For example, I'm just finishing a wonderful wine from Touraine Amboise called Ad Libitum, made by Coralie & Damien Delecheneau.  Nice stuff. Has the classic ashy/earthy nose that you want in CF, lots of sour cherry and charcoal and great long finish.  And it's only $13.99.  

That said, Napagirl - by all means do try to find a wine from LI. In fact, write to Paumanok and see if Charles can ship to CA.  He's one of the best producers out there.

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