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The Beautifully Underrated Bourgueil

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I have long maintained that the single most underrated region in the wine world is the Loire Valley. There are scores of unique wineries, growers, and grape varietals to be found here. This small area can lead us to discuss a whole myriad of wines. Today we will review a region in the heart of the Loire called Bourgueil.

The wines from this region are almost exclusively made from Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc, underrated in its own right, is a wonderful red grape full of character and vibrancy. Lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine tends to be a bright pale red wine with finesse and a touch of pepper on the nose. Along with pepper, well made wines can also include aromas of cassis, violets, tobacco, raspberry and maybe even cedar. The complexity of these wines along with well balanced acid and judicious oak make my mouth water!

Bourgueil soils contain a lot of gravel and sand along with some limestone. This combination allows the vines to have excellent drainage without the soil being too rich. The vines have to fight to survive, therefore the roots go deep and extract every ounce of love from the soil. This creates wines that are floral, fruity and complex and with age that can have a wonderful earthy element.  If you like a more up front, fruity style, you can drink these young, if complex earthy and leathery notes are your thing, age the wine for 10-20 years in a cool, dark place and you will be amazed at the complexity and melding of earth and fruit in the glass.  Pair reds from this area with pork tenderloin or grilled chicken. Bourgueil wines are also the ultimate burger wine!

Harder to find, but also beautiful are rose’s from this region. Only 5% of total production, these wines are fresh, vibrant yet still have the signature violet and peppery notes.

ImageAn awesome example of Bourgueil that won’t break the bank is Domaines des Ouches Bourgueil Igoranda.($20) Made by the Gambier brothers who represent the 8th generation of Gambiers making wine in Bourgueil! Over time, they have learned to master the region pulling grapes from various spots on the vineyard in order to make different styles. The Igoranda is elegant with cassis, tobacco combined with a flowery aroma of bing cherries and black raspberries. This wine is composed of fruit from the hillside. The Gambiers have noticed this plot takes longer to ripen, giving the wine more acid and complex fruit. While riskier and more expensive to produce, the results are beautiful!

Be daring and don’t ignore this unknown region. If you are a red wine fan, I think you will be surprised. While hard to find, it is worth the search!

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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Terroir – Small Word – Huge Impact

Terroir is a simple seven letter word yet it is probably the single most important concept in the world of fine wine. It also has impacts in other agriculture such as coffee, chocolate, hops and tea. If you are a wine lover you have probably run across the word and “kind of-sort of” know what it is. Terroir is like the wind, you know it’s there but you can’t see it.

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The steep slope, soil composition and influence of the nearby Mosel river are unique aspects of the terroir of this German wine region

Very loosely translated, terroir is considered a “sense of place”. This involves several factors such as wind, rainfall, sunlight, soil…. It is the sum effects that the local environment has had in producing the grapes. The French and other Europeans have embraced this idea for hundreds of years. This is the base of the French wine Appellation d’origine controlee (AOC). AOC is also the model of just about every other countries appellation system.

Terroir is why many European wines have in the largest print on the label the area or AOC it is grown in. Such as Chablis, Margaux, Vouvray, Chianti… The reason this is in large print and the actual producer is often in tiny print is because they believe that terroir is the single most important thing to consider when buying, selecting or making a wine. The Europeans have discovered that different areas make different wines and through hundreds of years of trial and error, they have chosen specific grapes and techniques that work best in each region. Even to the extent that they impose often times very strict rules for the farmers and producers in the area. This concept is starting to take root in new world regions such as California. Napa Valley, Sonoma are just two examples. If fact, these broad regions are being broken down to small regions such as Stag’s Leap District, Howell Mountain. Even down to individual vineyards just like the top French wines do.

Terroir is why specific regions make wines that are very different even though the winemaker has used the same winery practices. Places such as Burgundy have many terroirs that can be very small. Sometimes a road, or a small hill may mean you have entered a different AOC. Some regions command massive prices because of terroir. The rare places on earth that are known to make world class wines, such as Napa Valley, certain regions in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo… have land prices that are astronomical because these specific terroirs are very rare.

Next time you try a wine, consider the terroir and history of a site and how it affected your wine. This will open up a whole new world of wine. It will help you appreciate your wine even more.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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