The grandest of French rivers runs a 1,000 kilometer course, flowing north through the center of France and then westward to the city of Nantes, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Along its way, the Loire passes through thirteen departments and together with its tributaries, provides the setting for seventy-three different appellations. These appellations fall within five viticultural regions: Auvergne, Centre-Loire, Touraine, Anjou-Saumur and Nantais. This week's featured wine is from Touraine, where the vineyards extend in all directions from the town of Tours and are organized into thirteen appellations.
Here, the Touraine region, and especially the village of Chinon, represents the Cabernet Franc grape’s spiritual home and is undeniably where this noble grape reaches its greatest expression. Often just a a simple pleasant bistro wine, Chinon from certain sites, in the hands of the right vigneron, is a wine of substantial magnitude, densely structured and capable of standing toe to toe with any of France’s most celebrated reds.
The Domaine Couly sits high above the rotary as you enter Chinon like a watchtower guarding the city gates. Behind its trademark red turret sits a modern, state of the art winery producing juicy, fruity, and sophisticated Cabernet Franc. Surrounded by lavish vineyards over 16 hectares of rich, chalky soil, the estate is run by brothers Pierre and Bertand, who come from 15 generations of grape growing and produce white, rose and impressive red wines with subtle tannin and rich fruit. The Coulys are committed to biodynamic and sustainable farming with minimal intervention, hand harvested fruit, and native yeast fermentations in stainless steel tank. The La Haute Olive hillside is just east of town and planted to 100% Cabernet Franc grown on soil composed of ancient limestone that produces wines of great finesse and surprising aging potential. This 2016 reveals a lot of aromatic charm with a fragrance of damp tobacco leaf, savory herbs and rich, tangy red fruit. Fans of classic Bordeaux will love this wine's versatility and medium body. Juicy and fresh with mouthwatering acidity, the Couly Chinon will pair with a variety of foods from smoked fish and summer vegetarian casseroles to heartier meat based dishes like brisket and lamb chops. Serve with a slight chill to beat the summertime heat.