I pride myself on vinuous diversity, tasting and collecting wines made from a plethora of grapes, using multiple winemaking styles, selling at all price points, coming from every region around the world:
"I believe every wine has a perfect time, place, food pairing, and friend to share it with." - Joe
But I have avoided Loire wines over the years. That is actually not true, as I have had great experiences with Loire WHITE wines - glorious Sancerre, Vouvray, Pouilly-Fume, Muscadet. But I was stung by a vile Loire red years ago and I have not touched one since.
The wine writers seem to be equally suspicious. While I could pull together many quotes, the great Jancis Robinson (a writer I find more old world in her preferences) said of Loire reds; "In the old days reds in two years out of three were thin, weedy and tart..." While it is no longer "the old days", it seems to me that Loire winemakers continue their battle with Mother Nature in this northerly wine-growing region, desperately trying to get their vines to ripen.
In the Loire, red wines make up 26% of production, and Cabernet Franc is the principal red wine grape. The AOC of Chinon is famous for its reds, so I thought that my tentative return to Loire reds should start here.
The 2004 Domaine de la Perrière was in some ways both a disappointment and vindication. Light purple in colour, the nose was quite interesting - vegetal, earthy and woodsy with scents of cocoa powder, pepper and gooseberries. The rest could simply quote Jancis above. Very dry, light bodied and minerally with some black cherry fruit, the sharp acidity was overwhelming, putting everything off balance. It worked a bit better with the lamb kebabs, slicing through the grease, and the wine softened ever so slightly over the evening. It was tasted both cool, right out of the bottle, and warm after a long decant, with similar notes.
Price: C$19.55 (SAQ)
Perhaps I am the beer swilling lout at the back of the opera house and I just "don't get it". Or perhaps the terroir is speaking to us, like a cheap 70s horror flick, saying "Get Out! You cannot fully ripen here..."
Regardless, I never give up on a grape or region. I will retreat to the Gironde, lick my wounds, and re-plan my assault on the grape Breton.