Sunday, December 11, 2011

Domaine Gouron Chinon (2008)

François Rabelais, a Renaissance writer, doctor and humanist once remarked, "Je ne bois pas plus qu'une éponge," or "I drink no more than a sponge."  The fact that Rabelais was born near Chinon may provide some insight into that quote.  While Chinon was home for Rabelais, it is also home to Chinon wine.  A light-to-medium bodied wine that has a remarkable ability to pair well with food.  

Nearly ninety percent of Chinon wines, i.e., wines produced within the Chinon AOC are red wines.  The principal grape used to produce these wines is the Cabernet Franc grape. The Cabernet Franc grape is lighter than the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, and is usually used for blends.  Bordeaux wines often incorporate Cabernet Franc grapes with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  But, in Chinon, the blend is reversed, with Cabernet Franc grapes standing alone (or with as much as ten percent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes). 

The Gouron family has been producing wines for five generations at an estate in Cravant les Coteaux.  The estate includes thirty hectare of fives, which range in age from fifteen to thirty-five years of age, growing on gravely and sandy soil.  In 2008, the weather created difficulties for the family, with hail and frost damaging many of the vines. Still, the winemaker was able to produce a limited amount of wines, including a Chinon that I recently purchased from a local grocery store. 

The label on the bottle describes the wine as inky purple, blood-red, fresh and fleshy with perfumy cassis, menthol and eucalyptus typical of the grape.  By contrast, the display described the wine as offering raspberry, leather, violets and a hint of green pepper, along with raspberry and cherry fruit on the palate with a finish of herbs and mineral nuances. I think that the display's description is largely accurate.  The wine is light to medium bodied,  and there was a good presence of raspberry and cherry fruit.  The only thing I did not really sense was the leather or green pepper.

I paired this wine with the Garlic-Fennel Rubbed Pork Loin Roast.   The medium body of this wine, as well as the fruit-forward taste of the wine worked well with the earthiness provided by the garlic, along with the floral aromas and anise flavors of the fennel.  Cabernet Franc wines, like the Domaine Gouron Chinon, can also be paired with chicken dishes and even some lighter beef dishes, such as grilled steaks, flatiron steaks.  I do not think this wine would work well with beef roasts, but it definitely works well with pork roasts and whole roasted chickens. 

This wine is available at wine stores and grocery stores like Roots in Olney, Maryland.  It sells for about $18.99 a bottle.


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