It’s once again Wine Blogging Wednesday and I’m glad to be a part of it again. I skipped out last month as the theme was “comfort wine” and quite frankly I don’t have one—comfort isn’t a reason for me to drink wine. But this month it’s French Cabernet Franc for Wine Blogging Wednesday #44 and the host is the infamous vlogger Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library TV. I kind of wanted to do a vlog post in honor of our host this month, but I couldn’t justify the expense for a video camera. Instead, I’ll write as usual.
I’m not going to give you the mundane background on French Cabernet Franc. If you cruise around a few other wine blogs today you’ll find plenty of that and I don’t want to be redundant. I will give you my reviews of two different Cab Francs, both from the Loire Valley region of France. But first I want to share some thoughts on shopping for wine.
One of the things that makes Wine Blogging Wednesday fun for me is that it often poses a challenge. Quite frequently I have to go from one wine shop to another searching up and down to find a wine that meets the criteria for the monthly theme. At times it’s further complicated by my own criteria—it must be relatively cheap. This month was a little bit of a challenge, but not too bad.
My first stop on my search for French Cabernet Franc was Cork ‘N Bottle, in Covington, KY, where I found a selection of one—Charles Joguet, Clos de la Dioterie 2005 from Chinon for $39.95. Now this may be a good price to some folks, but for me it’s double what I want to pay as a top price. This website is about finding great value wines and $40 isn’t what most of my readers consider great value.
To be fair, this vintage is supposedly exceptional, which is going to raise the price a bit. Add to that the weakness of the US dollar and the high cost of gasoline and the price gets bumped up a little more.
So what’s a cheap wine guy supposed to do? Talk to your friends at the wine shop. I’ve commented before that I prefer shopping at local wine shops versus grocery stores or warehouse clubs. In local wine shops you’ll not only find a better, more thoughtful selection of wines, but you’ll aslo find staff that are knowledgeable and focused on customer service. So when I commented that the Charles Joguet was a bit more expensive than I wanted, the response I got was, “Let me look in our cellar to see if we have another vintage that might be less expensive.”
“The cellar?” I thought. “I wouldn’t get this kind of service in a grocery store. Grocery store wine sections don’t even have a cellar.” A couple minutes later he returned with a bottle of Charles Joguet, Clos de la Dioterie 2000 for a mere $10. Woo-hoo! The 2000 vintage may not be as good as the 2005, but for $30 less I’m willing to give it a shot.
So my point is: Shopping for wine is going to be a better experience if you go to a wine shop. Go somewhere that specializes in wine and employs people who know about wine. Go there and be friendly, talk with them, ask questions. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know much about wine. They are typically going to be passionate about wine and they’ll enjoy helping you.
On to the tasting.
Charles Joguet, Clos de la Dioterie 2000 Chinon
The color on this is red with just a tinge of brown working its way into it and it’s lost a bit of its brilliance. Yes, it has a the slightest bit of oxidation. It’s not bad, but it is clear that this bottle needs to be consumed now. That’s probably a contributing factor to the $10 price.
The nose has violet, raspberry and pencil shavings. There’s almost a band-aid smell too, which is weird. The palate is quite tannic. More so than I would expect from a cab franc. It’s surprising at first and has a black tea quality to the mouth feel. Although the tannins are stronger than I expected, they are generally well integrated. There is also a spicy hotness from the acidity. It’s a nice balance. The flavors are raspberry and plum with mineral and dusty undertones. Chinon is typically a fairly light-bodied wine and that certainly is the case with this one. It’s light but had more body than I expected. It’s a decent old world cab franc but the bottle I had was a bit past its prime.
Wine: Charles Joguet, Clos de la Dioterie
Varietal: Cabernet Franc
Price Paid: $9.97
My next stop on the Cabernet Franc shopping tour was as equally rewarding as the first stop. There’s a wine shop called Piazza Discepoli with a few locations around Cincinnati, but none of them are in neighborhoods that I frequent. I’ve been wanting to check them out and I finally went out of my way to do so with a visit to their College Hill location, and I am glad I did so. It’s a small shop, but they have a great selection with a number of labels that I haven’t found in other Cincinnati wine shops. Guy Discepoli showed me around the shop and highlighted a few hidden gems that I have not yet tried. He knew the wine throughout the shop quite well and directed me right to the French Cabernet Franc where again my choices were limited to one—Domaine de la Chanteleuserie 2005 from Bourgueil for $16.99. I picked up that bottle then I helped Guy convince me to buy a case full of other wines. Another nice thing about wine shops for the budget-conscious is that you’ll often get a 10% discount when you buy a case.
Not surprisingly, the color in this was much more red and brilliant than the Chinon.
It took a bit for this one to open up. In fact, I felt like I had to force it open. When I first poured it, the nose was very tight—almost non-existent. Once it did open up, I got tarragon and plum from the nose, although it still lacked intensity. The palate has much of the same plum plus a bit of dried cherries and chocolate. The chocolate is very subtle, it’s kind of a fleeting mid-palate thing. It’s very smooth with an slightly tannic nature, but not nearly as tannic as the Chinon. This wine also has a bit more body. I would call this a medium-bodied wine. It’s a reasonably enjoyable wine, but its characteristics are rather subtle. The subtleties of this wine would make it easy to pair with a number of foods and it would probably be better with food versus as a standalone wine.
Wine: Domaine de la Chanteleuserie, Bourgueil
Varietal: Cabernet Franc
Price Paid: $16.99