Category: Wine Tasting Notes

How to Drive Your Cabernet Franc Crazy at the Dinner Table

Homemade côte de boeuf and sauce Choron.

Given this blog’s obvious indebtedness to François Rabelais, it’s long overdue that I sing praises of Loire Cabernet Franc — particularly Chinon.

Last Thursday, thanks in large part to Thierry Germain, I discovered the most perfect food pairing in the universe for Loire Cabernet Franc.

With a friend, we threw together an impromptu dinner contrasting two Loire Cabernet Francs from the same vintage: a 2002 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny “La Marginale”, and a 2002 Olga Raffault Chinon “Les Picasses”.

These are two benchmark Cab Francs from an excellent, sun-drenched, warm vintage. Thierry Germain’s Domaine des Roches Neuves “La Marginale” is his tête de cuvée wine, only made in the best vintages. A portion of the vines for La Marginale reside in the fabled lieu-dit “Poyeux” (of Clos Rougeard fame) in Varrains, and the other comes from other vines around Chacé; Olga Raffault’s Picasses is sourced from its own revered vineyard in the northwest of Chinon. Here are maps of Saumur and Chinon.

Saumur and Saumur-Champigny. 
Chinon and Bourgueil.

Thierry Germain is clearly a bon vivant, and meticulous in all he does; he is one of the only winemakers whose technical sheets offer not one, but twelve different food pairings.

Côte de boeuf sauce Choron was Thierry Germain’s pairing suggestion for La Marginale that stole our hearts. We’d already decided steak was in order, so all that was left was figuring out what the hell a sauce Choron is. (Click to Read more)

Portugal’s Ageworthy White Wines and the Cinderella Myth

When most folks think of Portuguese white wine, they think of Vinho Verde, and involuntarily dredge up a tired set of stereotypes:

“This wine is only good up to a year after release. This wine is fizzy and sweet. This wine isn’t serious — it’s just cheap and easy.”

This does a disservice to a country whose wines will dazzle so many serious wine drinkers. Shortest internet quiz ever:

Are you always adding slices of lemon to your drinking water?

If so, you’re not just doing something healthy, you’re predisposed to amazing, undervalued Portuguese white wines. You crave acid and citrus — the very heart and soul of Portuguese whites grown in granite soils.

Two Portuguese regions are dominated by granite: Vinho Verde and the Dão, and each produce stunning whites. And yes, even Vinho Verde makes terroir-driven wines that can age. Vinho Verde is the land of acid surprises, and below are only a few examples of what you can buy without flying to Lisbon for fairly absurd prices. (Click to Read more)

Lisbon’s Magical Blend of Youthfulness and Decay

Portugal’s wines must be the most undervalued in the world. While most of us can’t afford to buy aged wine in its prime, in Portugal, you can. You don’t need a cellar and 10 years’ patience; you just need a cheap flight to Lisbon, some AirBnB research, and an empty suitcase with enough wool socks for your bottles.

While every other wine region is struggling to fool folks into believing their wines are blessed with this generation’s buzzwords — freshness, acidity, unique indigenous grapes, and enough tannins to improve with age — Portugal actually delivers. It’s an irrefutable truth whose meaning sets in via your gums once you’ve tasted through your first dozen Portuguese wines. The wines call for food: they are crafted for them.

Even if the Portuguese have anointed a precious handful of crown jewels priced 200-900€ from the Douro — Barca Velha; Pera Manca; Quinta do Crasto; and of course aged ports — the insane value lies outside of these fleeting icons of national pride. (Click to Read more)