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August #ChiWineChat: Let's Talk About Touraine

By John Lenart in Food on Aug 8, 2014 7:00PM

Last month we chatted about rosé in #ChiWineChat. Here are some of the tweets from people who tasted and chatted along.

Thanks to everyone who chatted along. I hope you enjoyed rosé. It's still summer, so there's plenty of time to taste more great ones.

This month, let's chat about Touraine; a red wine from the Loire Valley made primarily from cabernet franc. I was thinking about the Loire Valley due to a great Chinon rosé I tasted last month.

The Loire Valley lies in northwest part of France and is about two-thirds the size of Bordeaux. Due to its location and marginal climate, wines from the Loire Valley are greatly affected by the vintage.

I had initially planned to chat about Chinon, the funky red from the Loire Valley made from cabernet franc. However, when I went to buy one, the shop I went to only had a few fairly pricey ones. Now, I like to keep the price of the wines we're chatting about around the $20 or less, so I talked with the shop owner and he turned me onto Touraine. Like Chinon, Touraine is from the Loire Valley and is made with cabernet franc, but it also can be made with côt, which you might know as malbec. Other grape varieties used can include cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, pinot meunier, pineau d'aunis, also known as chenin noir, and occasionally, in wines released within a year of production, gamay.

Due to the mild climate in the Loire Valley cabernet franc from the region can show a ton of green bell pepper and weedy characteristics in cool years, while in warm years it can be more fruit forward, showing raspberry and tobacco notes.

The Touraine AOC, which is the French version of an AVA, is about 13,000 acres and is also known for producing high quality chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc.

So, let's taste some wine.

Today I'm tasting a Touraine from Clos Roche Blanche, 2013, Cuvée Pif. The vineyard that grows the grapes for this wine was planted in the 1800's and has been family owned ever since.

2013 was a tough year for parts of the Loire as hailstorms in June almost entirely wiped out the crops of Vouvray and Montlouis. It was a cool year across the Loire Valley and many red grapes just barely reached full ripeness.

This wine is a blend of cabernet franc and côt. By the way, did you know that cabernet franc is actually the parent of cabernet sauvignon, which is a hybrid of cab franc and sauvignon blanc?

Anyway, back to Touraine. This wine is bright but somewhat light in color. It's young and has a ruby color leading out to a purplish rim similar to wines from the Rhône Valley. Clearly 2013 was a cool year because this wine slaps you in the face with aromas of green bell pepper. I also get a good amount of black peppercorns and a hint of violet comes through on the nose.

The body is fairly light, and at only 12% alcohol I guess that's to be expected. The bell pepper and black peppercorn from the nose come through in the taste along with light fresh raspberries. The wine has good acidity. Because of its qualities this wine would be great with a variety of foods from lighter chicken dishes to beef.

You can buy this wine for about $18 at Perman Wine Selections (802 W Washington Blvd).

So, that's what I'm drinking. Now it's your turn; get out there, and taste some Touraine. Then tweet about it or post about it on Facebook using the hash tag #ChiWineChat to let me know what you're drinking, and what you think about it.

Oh, and by the way, the name of the wine, Cuvée Pif, is named for the family dog Pif.