What We Were Drinking in France

Over the course of a week, I taste a bunch of wine, usually with friends, and almost always with my wife.  Here are some of the wines we tasted over the past few weeks. These are wines that were not sent as samples—in most cases, I actually paid for these wines (although a few have been given as gifts).

We have been back from France for almost a week now but I am still waking up way before dawn. Sebastian started school last week and this weekend I will be heading back to Cleveland to help Nathan get situated before he starts his sophomore year at Case Western. Despite all the activity, I am still reminiscing about our trip and going over the various notes I took. Here are a few of the wines that stood out that second week.

2018 Philippe Alliet Chinon Coteau de Noiré, France: 58€ (restaurant in Tours). 100% Cabernet Franc. My wife and I ditched the kids (we were in France and they wanted fast food hamburgers—we still have a lot of work to do with them) and we had a little date night in Vieux Tours. I ordered beef and she ordered lamb, so this seemed like the obvious choice. Whoa. Was it ever. It took a minute to open up, but once it did? It slapped me about the head and face to remind me that I need to drink more Chinon. Ruby to dark ruby in the glass with earthy, smoky, herbaceous raspberry and even cassis. Whoa. The palate is rich, fruity, yes, but also layered and complex. Plenty of tartness, a healthy tannic component, and a well above-average finish. Sure, I was sitting on an ancient street in France with a multitude of delicious aromas wafting our way from the half-dozen restaurants within our personal space, and sitting across from my wife of 20+ years. Was I biased? Probably. But this is Outstanding. 94 Points.

2001 La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Les Fourchaumes Les Vaulorents, France: 90€ at a restaurant in Paris. 100% Chardonnay. It was my birthday and wanted something white, Burgundian, and old. This fit the bill. The largest producer of wines from Chablis (and one of the larger cooperatives in France) but this really hit the spot. After coaxing the cork out, this golden wine clearly has some oxidation but it works. Most of the fruit is gone, but there are hints of lemon rind on both the nose and the palate. Nutty, nuanced, and layered, this is not for the faint of heart. It’s an older Chablis. Even an old Chablis and while it might not have much time left, it is completely magnificent tonight. Outstanding. 93 Points.

NV Couly-Dutheil Brut de Franc, Loire Valley, France: 10€ at the winery in Chinon. 100% Cab Franc. We were cycling through the Loire Valley and had stopped in Chinon where we ditched the kids for a tasting at Couly-Dutheuil. Our host first pulled out a still white Cab Franc and then this sparkling White Cab Franc. Since my experience with white Cab Franc was next to nil, I was beyond curious and I bought a bottle. We popped it back in Paris with my Korean tacos which I once again made for our dear friends. Quite fruity on the nose with orchards of green apple and hints of fresh croissant. The palate is fruity and fun with a good acidity level, a touch of sweetness, and a solid finish. Nothing spectacular and more of a curiosity than stellar wine, but it went well with the tacos, quite well, in fact. Very Good. 88 Points.

2020 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Rosé René Couly, Loire Valley, France: 25€ at a restaurant in Chinon. 100% Cabernet Franc. True Rosé. Quite dark, close to the rosé/red delimiter. Quite fruity (ripe strawberry and raspberry) on the nose with an odd mocha note (which works) and a bit of basil. The palate is fruity, corsé, and loaded with body, weight, and verve. This is not a poolside sipper or a heat-beating patio pounder. It is a serious rosé with plenty of chops. I have been a fan of Couly-Dutheil for a while now and their rosé has always been a favorite. Excellent. 91 Points.

2009 Langlet Champagne Du temps comme il vient, France: 95€ at a restaurant in Paris. I looked, but could not find the varietal composition, but I am guessing it has to be close to 50/50 Pinot Noir/Chardonnay. I have no familiarity with the house so when I saw this vintage on the menu, I jumped. Straw to yellow in the glass with intense citrus and a healthy yeasty component. The palate is quite fruity, but also really dry. The latter was expected (given that it was labeled as an Extra Dry) but the former was a surprise. I am guessing this wine could use some more cellar time to let the secondary flavors develop a bit further. Very Good. 89 Points.

2021 Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Blanc, Loire Valley, France: 24€ at a restaurant in Chinon. 100% Chenin Blanc. After a week of riding, we had finally made it to Chinon and I was thus craving some Chenin. Red dominates in the region, with Chenin Blanc only 5% of the total production. Perhaps needless to say, not much white from the region makes it to the U.S., so I needed to take advantage of my proximity to the variety. Straw to lightly yellow in the glass and quite shy on the nose with only a faint citrus coming through. Weighty and fruity on the palate with a nice acidity and finish. Not the best white Chinon I’ve had, but a fine representative of the genre. Very Good. 89 Points.

WINE OF THE WEEK: Unlike last week there was no clear Wine of the Week or second week in France as the wines were all solid. In the end, despite spending a good chunk of the week in the Loire Valley, I decided to go with a wine from Burgundy for the top honors this week. Why? Well, it is always a bit of a crap shoot when opening a white Burgundy these days (although less so with the wines from Chablis). Thus, I was pretty static when the 2001 La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Les Fourchaumes Les Vaulorents turned out to be a fantastic bottle of wine.

 What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?



About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Cabernet Franc, Champagne, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

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