30 Second Wine Advisor: Fresh young Chinon

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Fresh young Chinon

Ready for another taste of Chinon? A few weeks ago, talking about Domaine de Noire 2009 "Soif de Tendresse" Chinon "Fruité," I hailed the Cabernet Franc-based reds of France's Loire Valley for their role in "memorable reds with chiseled structure and fascinating minerality."

Inspired by the arrival of another good, reasonably priced Chinon in the still-fresh 2010 vintage from a quality importer, let's return to the Loire today.

Saint-Laurent 2010 Chinon La Vigne en Véron, a "second label" from French négociant Foucher-Lebrun, is typical of quality second labels in offering good value at an affordable price. Characteristic of the Chinon regional style, it wasn't breathtakingly out of line at $15 locally, but I couldn't help noticing that Wine-Searcher.com shows several vendors offering it around $10. Caveat emptor.

Just for fun, in lieu of going to the published critics to research the wine, I clicked through some of those Wine-Searcher.com links to see what retailers and distributors had to say. While seeking opinions from the people who sell a product may invite reasonable skepticism, the results in this case seemed useful and interesting.

Shoppers Vineyard in New Jersey, for example, drew a thorough description of the wine's origin, vinification and a wine maker's tasting report from the importer's files:

"This Chinon comes from the villages of Riviere, Beaumont en Veron and Savigny en Veron. The soils here are a mix of Argilo Calcaire and gravel which tend to produce wines that are a bit more approachable with soft tannins and lovely fruit. The core of the blend is a cuvee of old vines (45-50 years) raised mostly in used barriques, 1-3 years old. The balance is aged in tank, creating a wine that is bright, fresh and aromatic, with lovely cut. A perfect wine for picnics or by the glass in bistro like settings."

PJ Wine in NYC, in turn, offered its own tasting report on the 2009 vintage:

"It telegraphs the terroir of the region in all its bell-peppered, graphite goodness and refreshes the palate with each sip. But this is no sipping wine-this is drinking wine; bistro wine; a red wine for the summertime. We like to put a slight chill on this and just suck it down by the gallon."

Not bad! You'll find my tasting notes below.

Today's Tasting Report

Saint-Laurent 2010 Chinon La Vigne en Véron ($14.99)


Dark garnet with reddish-violet glints. Good, subtle fruit, currants and cranberries on the nose. Bright, mouthwatering red-fruit flavors, framed by cleansing acidity and soft but perceptible tannic astringency, with rational 13% alcohol. In this youthful stage it might be a bit austere for sipping as a cocktail glass of red wine, but its acidity and tannins make it a fine food companion with mushrooms or meat. U.S. importers: Vanguard Wines LLC, Columbus, Ohio; Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, N.Y., and other regional importers. (March 11, 2012)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with tannin-forgiving red meats, roast poultry or cheese, or earthy meatless fare such as our dinner crafted to match, pan-seared and oven-finished eggplant "steaks" with mushrooms and browned onions.

VALUE: As noted in the article above, it justifies a mid-teens price based on quality and typical Chinon character, but Wine-Searcher.com finds several U.S. vendors in the $10 range.

WHEN TO DRINK: Good now, and as noted, capable of possible evolution toward a bit more complexity with two to five years under good cellar conditions.

WEB LINK: Click to read a report from importer Polaner Selections about St. Laurent and its négociant, Foucher-Lebrun.

Find vendors and compare prices for Saint-Laurent Chinon La Vigne en Véron on Wine-Searcher.com.

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