From: Loire Valley, France
Varietal: Cabernet Franc
Taste: This easy-drinking, extra tasty Bourgueil is chock full of red fruits like Morello cherry, wild strawberry, and juicy raspberry. Touches of violets, pepper, licorice, spices, and graphite keep this red wine poised and fresh. An invigorating palate full of fruit and tension leads to a mineral, lifted finish. We recommend serving this wine slightly chilled to show off its pretty fruit.
Pairing: Wines from Bourgueil are fantastic food wines, and this is no exception. Some examples include house favorites like Pâté and Rillettes, lamb burgers or meatballs (check out the appetizer or light meal pairing below), kefta kebab, lamb and beef gyros, thinly cut seared or grilled steak, Asian rice dishes that don’t lean into spicy flavors, anything with mushrooms, roasted or grilled salmon, peppered beef, roasted chicken thighs with mustard, veal, grilled pork chops, tacos, BBQ, etc., etc. The list can keep on going, and we’re pretty sure you get the idea by now.
By Ali Slagle
Published Jan. 16, 2024
About the region. Bourgueil is the appellation for red wines from the commune of the same name and six others surrounding it in France's central Loire Valley wine region. The wines are usually made entirely from Cabernet Franc.
Although technically a part of the Touraine district (which is defined by the political boundaries of the city of Tours), Bourgueil is markedly different from its neighbors. It is often grouped as a separate unit with Chinon, the other side of the Loire River, and the adjacent Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil. The commune of Saint-Nicolas is covered by Bourgueil and its own appellation. Production regulations are identical, with only terroir providing differentiation.
Bourgueil produces mostly red wines (one of only very few Loire appellations to do so) and a small quantity of rosé, both characterized by their crisp, refreshing acidity and prominent spiced fruit flavors. Tasting notes for Bourgueil reds often cite raspberries and pencil shavings.
The reds must feature a minimum of 90 percent Cabernet Franc (up to 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon is permitted under appellation law). Cabernet Franc responds particularly well to the mild, maritime-influenced climate and free-draining soils here. The wines vary from light-bodied, fruit-driven styles that are not dissimilar to good Beaujolais to silky, mid-bodied wines with complex notes of undergrowth, spice, and ripe berry fruit.
In line with the quintessentially French notion of terroir, Bourgueil reds strongly reflect the soil where the vines are grown. The area around Chinon and Bourgueil is blessed with two soil key types, which are well suited to producing quality Cabernet Franc wines.
The gravelly alluvial soils close to the banks of the Loire generate lighter, fresher styles with aromas of red berries and licorice. Those rich in the local 'tuffeau jaune' stone type produce richer, spicier wines with 'animal' aromas like leather and fur.
Tuffeau is a yellowish, fragile, sedimentary rock characteristic of the Loire region, where it was formed during the Turonian era (named after Touraine) roughly 90 million years ago. A combination of sand and marine fossils, the rock is extremely porous, absorbing water rapidly and disseminating it slowly. These qualities are ideal for viticulture as they draw excess water away from vine roots and hold reserves that stop the vines from shutting down entirely during drier periods.
Just as Chenin Blanc has its own name (Pineau) in the Loire region, the local name for Cabernet Franc is Breton. This is not a reference to Bretagne, the region just to the northwest, but rather the monk given credit for bringing the variety to popularity in the 17th century. Abbot Breton of Bourgueil Abbey planted and tended his Cabernet Franc vines with such care that local vine growers followed his lead and began producing what became the Loire Valley's signature style of red wine.
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