Thursday 21 May 2009

I Love French Wine and Food - A Loire Valley Bourgueil

If you are in the market for fine French wine and food, why
not consider the Loire Valley region of central France? You
may find a bargain, and I hope that you?ll have fun on this
fact-filled wine education tour where we review a red
Bourgueil wine based on Cabernet Franc with perhaps a touch
of Cabernet Sauvignon coming from western Touraine in the
center of the Loire Valley.

The Loire Valley ranks third in total acreage devoted to
vineyards among France's eleven wine-growing regions. At
over six hundred miles (one thousand kilometers) the Loire
is France's longest river. In encompasses several regions
which we list going from west to east. First is the Nantais
region whose major grape is the white Muscadet. Then comes
Anjou-Saumur whose most important grapes are the white
Chenin Blanc and the red Cabernet Franc. In Touraine the
primary white grapes are Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc
and whose primary red grape is Cabernet Franc. Finally
comes the Central Vineyards whose major white grape is
Sauvignon Blanc and whose major red grape is Pinot Noir.
Sooner or later we will review at least one wine from each
of these regions.

Bourgueil is a market town surrounded by caves and
vineyards. Go north a bit to the Cave Touristique de la
Dive Bouteille (Tourist's Shady Bottle Cave) that's full of
local wines. Don't miss the Benedictine Abbaye de Bourgueil
(Bourgueil Abbey) where. according to popular legend, the
first Cabernet Franc vine was planted in 1089. Stop by its
Musee des Arts et Traditions Populaires (Art and Folk
Traditions Museum). Then proceed about 12 miles (19
kilometers) north to the Chateau de Langeais, a great
mid-Fifteenth Century Loire Castle.

Before reviewing the Loire wine and imported cheeses that
we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and
a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of
what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this
beautiful region. Start with Quiche aux Rillettes (Quiche
with Coarse Pork Pate). For your second course savor
Beuchelle, Tourte aux Rognons (Sweetbreads and Kidney Pie).
And for dessert indulge yourself with Nougat de Tours
(Tours Nougat).

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review
are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Yannick Amirault Le Grand Clos Bourgueil
2004 13.0% alcohol about $17

Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. Yannick
Amirault is said to be one of the best producers in Loire
Valley's Bourgueil AC. In fact, French publication
Classement (2005) called him the best in the region,
commenting in the last ten years, the wines of this domaine
have appeared as the most complex and the most consistent
of the appellations Bourgueil and St. Nicholas de
Bourgueil. The wines of the domaine are characterized by
body, cleanness, charm, and in a great vintage, by
aristocracy. And now for my review.

My first meal consisted of commercially prepared barbecued
beef ribs in a sweet sauce accompanied by rice and Turkish
Salad. The wine was round and black fruits predominated.
The acidity did a fine job of cutting the grease. This wine
was full but short.

The second meal was whole-wheat spaghetti with a commercial
tomato spaghetti sauce that I boosted with a medley of
garlic, red pepper, multiple mushrooms, olive oil,
anchovies, capers, Greek olives, and Parmesan cheese. The
Bourgueil was mouth filling, round, and dark. I don't
remember when I enjoyed pasta and wine so much.

The final pairing involved breaded fried chicken cutlets,
potato patties, and Caponata, a purchased Italian tomato,
pepper, onion, and eggplant salad. The wine was dark and
round yet it didn't overwhelm the chicken, perhaps because
it was fried. It was a good accompaniment to the fruity
eggplant salad. I was sorry that I didn't have any
fruit-juice candy. The wine absolutely did not mesh with
pistachio nougat candy.

The first cheese pairing was with a German Emmenthaler
(Swiss) Cheese. The wine retained its acidity and flavor,
tasting of tobacco and black cherries. Then I tried a
goat's milk cheese called Poitou Charente from central
western France. The wine was round and relatively powerful.

Final verdict. I was happy with this wine and would buy it
again, especially if I could get it at a better price but
there are so many Loire Valley wines to taste, not to
mention the other wine regions of France.

About the Author:

In his younger days Levi Reiss wrote ten computer and
Internet books either alone or with a co-author. Between
you and me, he really prefers drinking fine German or other
wine, accompanied by the right foods and the right people.
He teaches various and sundry computer classes at an
Ontario French-language community college. Check out his
global wine website is with
a new weekly column reviewing $10 wines.

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