Name: 2004 Baudry Chinon "Les Granges"
Grape: Cabernet Franc
Region: Loire Valley, France
Price: $15.00 to $17.00
Chinon (pronounced she-non), like many other French wines, is both a wine and a town. Situated on the Vienne River, once a significant trade route, the village of Chinon has a rich and active history that dates back thousands of years. All red wine coming from Chinon will be made from Cabernet Franc; an interesting grape that is both completely accessible while also being different and interesting.
For witty conversation at your next holiday party mention that Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon. Sadly, Cabernet Franc is often overshadowed by this more famous relation. It is a little known fact that one of the world's most elite wines, Chateau Cheval Blanc, is primarily made from Cabernet Franc. Many of the great Bordeaux have Cabernet Franc in their final blend; it just rarely stands alone.
Fortunately the Loire Valley climate is a perfect match for Cabernet Franc. Cool inland temperatures and river breezes keep the days cool enough to gently ripen the vine, which showcases Cabernet Franc’s individual potential.
A good Cabernet Franc will be lighter in body, color and tannins then Cabernet Sauvignon. A very specific nose of lead pencil, herbs and peppery fruit mark this wine; in the mouth zippy spice and high acidity make this an excellent food pairing wine.
Bernard Baudry is a careful steward of Cabernet Franc; he hand harvests every grape and uses only the gentlest of farming practices. Every year he releases a few different bottlings, believing each to be distinctly different than the others. "Les Granges" is the least expensive of the lot but has shown in years past to be my favorite. I've yet to try the 2004 but will pick up a bottle this weekend.
Astor Wines & Spirits $15.99 (399 Lafayette @ 4th Street), Crush Wine Co. $16.99 (153 E 57th Street btwn Lexington & 3rd Ave.), Park Avenue Liquor $17.00 (292 Madison Ave btwn 40th & 41st St.), Chambers Street Wines $15.00 (162 Chambers St. @ Greenwhich)