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Getting to know Bourgueil
Domaine de la Chanteleuserie 2000 "Cuvee Alouettes" Bourgueil
Brentwood Wine Company - The Best Wines, Online.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

Getting to know Bourgueil

In a world with literally hundreds of thousands of choices in wine, it's all too easy to shun an item with a name we don't know, particularly if that name seems difficult to pronounce.

But fear of the unfamiliar and the unpronounceable can cause us to miss out on some excellent wine - and this is certainly true in the case of the wine we're examining today: Bourgueil.

Bor-gay? Bur-gee? Bur-gooey, even? It's certainly one of those French names that can prove daunting to English-speaking tongues. But persistence, and a couple of practice tries, will get you close enough to ask for it without embarrassment in the wine shop or restaurant. Break it into three syllables (or maybe two-and-a-half) as Bour-gue-il and say it "Boor-guh-y."

The rest of the story is simple enough: The wine, as most French wines are, is named for its region of origin, not the grape. In the heart of the Loire valley, not too far from the Atlantic, Bourgueil lies on the north bank of the river and Chinon on the south, in the sub-region known as Touraine.

While most of the Loire is known for white wines, Bourgueil and Chinon specialize in reds, made mostly from the Cabernet Franc grape that's locally known as Breton. (Recent regulatory changes now allow some Cabernet Sauvignon to be added to the blend, but Cabernet Franc still predominates.)

These wines represent a real change of pace for palates accustomed to hearty, inky, tooth-staining reds: They're relatively subtle and delicate - some authorities refer to them as "Beaujolais-style," although I find that misleading. They usually show mixed-berry aromas and flavors - raspberry in particular - along with marked herbal scents that often remind me of tarragon or that familiar "pencil-sharpener" aroma of fresh oregano, all backed by a snappy acidity that makes the wines sing with food.

Today's example comes from a property nearly two centuries old, whose current owner, Thierry Boucard, represents the seventh generation of his family in the business since 1822. Its light but bright flavors make it an exceptional red-wine match with chicken dishes.

Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Domaine de la Chanteleuserie 2000 "Cuvee Alouettes" Bourgueil ($12.99)

Dark garnet in color, with aromas of fresh red fruit and a distinct herbal impression of oregano. Bright and juicy red-berry fruit flavors over "green" herbaceous notes and fragrant black pepper, nicely structured with zippy acidity. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Importer, Berkeley, Calif. (May 19, 2002)

FOOD MATCH: Its fresh berry and herb notes make it a natural with pan-grilled chicken breasts with mushrooms and red bell peppers over pasta.

VALUE: Thanks to its flavor, balance and fine expression of the best qualities in Loire reds, it exceeds expectations in the $13 range.

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Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

For Monday-only readers who'd like to read specific daily Wine Advisor articles, here's last week's index:

Popping a Prosecco (May 17)

A secret from Spy Valley (May 16)

Two more U.S. wineries embrace screw cap (May 15)

Tasting Torrontes (May 14)

Do I ever dislike a wine? (May 13)

Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Creating a dish: Smoked salmon and eggs (May 16)

Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:


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Monday, May 20, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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