We shall continue our tour of Middle Earth, I mean Middle Loire, moving further east into Touraine. If you haven’t read about Middle Loire’s Anjou-Saumur region(s), make sure to take a pitstop there first.
Again, I find a compelling quote to introduce this region from the Oxford Companion to Wine: “This is ‘the garden of France,’ and Loire chateau country par excellence.” Let’s find out what makes this particular piece of wine country so excellent…
Anjou-Saumur, together with Touraine, make up the Middle Loire. (I feel like there’s a joke here about Middle Earth.) But, again for the benefit of my poor brain, I’m going to further separate these three regions (Anjou and Saumur really being two regions that are lumped together) into two separate posts.
I love a good Cabernet Franc — that’s just a fact. And I’ve been so happy to see it grow as a common varietal within the last few years. Read a few of my Cab Franc highlights. When done well, there’s an aged elegance to it — even in its younger years. I love the innate pepperiness of the variety; the touchable, suede-like tannins in the wine varietal; and I love that mouthful — because it is a mouthful — of fruit, earth, and spice all combine into a celebration of this foundational grape.
Yorkville Cellars may seem a bit of a secret. Indeed, the Yorkville Highlands AVA itself is a bit of a hidden gem, found squeezed between Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley AVA and Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley AVA. Only one percent of Yorkville’s 40,000 acres is planted to vines, but amongst that one percent are 21 different grape varieties. Yorkville Cellars is one of the 25 wineries found in this mountainous region and the only one growing all eight main Bordeaux grapes and producing them as varietal wine. Who likes Cab Franc?
Winemaker Dave Collins was probably the perfect guy to bring on board the Big Cork Vineyards team back in 2011 when the winery was first planting its grapes. He’d already been in the business for over 30 years, with his latest gig just across the Potomac River in Virginia — just 10 miles from the current Big Cork Vineyards estates. So not only did he come with winemaking experience, he was familiar with the terroir and what grapes would grow well and where. Obviously the pursuit was successful, today the winery boasts over 35 acres planted to vines with about 21 different grape varietals.
When asked which grape was his favorite, Collins says, “That’s like asking me to tell you which of my kids is my favorite! […] Each one is important for its own accomplishments and personality, but it’s how they work as a team that is my favorite thing!”
Well, personally, I love a good Cab Franc. While they’re becoming more main stream, a single-varietal bottle is still a bit of a challenge to find. So I was most excited when the Big Cork Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Franc arrived in my Big Cork delivery.