Posted by: tomciocco | September 16, 2011


I think I’ve made it clear in a few earlier posts that Saumur-Champigny is my favorite Loire valley Cabernet Franc, and if I were to continue to keep score, I’d have to name Bourgueil (boor-GWAY) number two, or rather, second . As I alluded to above, both appellations can include a fair amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (up to 25% in Bourgueil), but Cabernet Sauvignon ripens unevenly in this relatively cool zone, ironically making it most useful in the blend (when the season has been warm and long enough to ripen it) when it’s least needed, because if the Sauvignon is ripe, the Franc is already even riper, so you then you don’t need or want what the burlier Sauvignon has to offer…

So for that reason, and the even greater one that this is one of the places in France that most exalts Cabernet Franc, most growers “bet the farm”, so to speak, on Cabernet Franc and make wines exclusively therefrom. The local vignerons are intensely proud of “their” grape, and treat it with the respect that Cab’ Franc’s son, Cab’ Sauvignon, (whose “mom” is Sauvignon Blanc believe it or not) gets on Bordeaux’s left bank.

So if the wines of Saumur and Saumur-Champigny are a bit more feminine, rounder, and more elegant, the wines from Bourgueil (and to a lesser extent St. Nicholas de Bourgueil) are  more forward, pungent, and energetic, but without the textured funk and deep power of the oft-cited king of Loire Cabernet Franc, Chinon, but that’s surely another post altogether…

The yellow squash at the market were N.J. produce, and looked great, so I used them to whip up a light cream of yellow squash soup flavored with a bouquet garni of thyme, bay leaf, parsley, sage, and little chip of cinnamon as well. And because Bourgueil has got a decent bit of muscle, I braised some flanken steak (it’s a lot like short rib meat) with onions, cognac, mushrooms, tomato, and rosemary, with some straight up plain mashed potatoes to go along with it.









Domaine de la Chevalerie Bourgueil “Cuvee Venus” 2010

Bright and youthfully deep crimson color. Gregarious nose of fallen leaves, raspberry, watermelon candy, green pepper, gingerbread, dried red flowers, and wet clay. The middleweight palate has a pulpy but pleasantly jagged texture, and well-developed flavors of sour cherry, cocoa powder, red currants, and espresso coffee, with rich plum underlying. Finishes on a cleansing bitter/tart fruit and herb note.



  1. Nice post. I wish that I could find one restaurant in NJ that understood Flank Steak and wines from the Loire. Cheers! wb

  2. Thanks. Sante`, Warren!


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