Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chateau de Riviere Chinon (2009)

Chinon is many things.  It is a city in France, along the Vienne River.  It is a chateaux, with imposing fortifications and a long history that can be traced back to 954 A.D.  And, it is a wine appellation ... the Appellation Chinon Controllee. The appellation consists of 4,500 acres of vineyards along the Vienne River.  There are two types of soil in these vineyards: sandstone and gravel along the flood plains, and clay and limestone in the hills   The wines produced along the flood plains tend to be lighter and those produced in the hills are fuller-bodied. Throughout the appellation, the primary grapes grown in the appellation are Cabernet Franc, with some Chenin Blanc. 

Drawing from the appellation and its surroundings, Chateau de Riviere produces a Chinon wine using only Cabernet Franc grapes.  The winemaker, Jean-Louis Breton, destems and vats the grapes for about twelve to eighteen days, with fermentation in temperature controlled vats.  The wine is then aged in stainless steel vats.

The tasting notes describe the wine as ruby red, with the aroma of violets.  Although I think the description of the wine is correct, I did not get any floral notes, but I did get a good spice, some black pepper and a little earthiness from the wine.  There was also aromas of some plum or blackberries.

The taste and body of the Chinon provide an interesting contrast.  The most prominent flavor of the wine is green pepper, with some spice and berry notes.  The pepper and spice flavors are ones that would normally linger on the tongue and usually come from wines that are full-bodied.  However, this Chinon has a lighter body, making it easier to drink and taming the prominent pepper flavors.  The lighter body makes this wine much for drinkable for people who may be wary of trying a wine that has pepper or spice flavors.  However, the flavors stay on the finish just long enough for people who love those flavors, like me. 

Like most red wines, this wine pairs well with red meats, such as ribeyes, strip steaks and other beef dishes.  I would also pair this wine with milder dishes, letting the wine provide the pepper spice to the meal.

This wine got an 89 from the Wine Spectator and, for a wine that sells for about $12 to $14 dollars, it is definitely a good buy for trying a wine from an appellation other than Bordeaux or Burgundy.  

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