It's Here. Summer Can Begin!
By Cynthia Hurley

Cabernet Franc Vineyards

Okay, this next paragraph may sound familiar to some of you die-hard Bourgueilians who've been buying this wine for years, but I didn't want to delete it for fear of losing newcomers to the wine. So here we go.

Can a wine that is impossible to pronounce ever get enough love? It certainly rarely gets ordered in a restaurant - if even found on the menu - far too embarrassing to stumble around in front of the waiter trying to say it correctly. But, what a pity because there are few wines that spark to food better than a Bourgueil. Okay. Here goes. Concentrate. Boor'goy. The trick is to give it a Yiddish twist at the end - as in the oi of oi vey. Step on the G hard. Boor-guhoi. Perfect! By Jove, I think you've got it - now GET some. Your chicken breast will be supreme and your sausage saucier. And, there is nothing like a pear soaked in a bit of Bourgueil - it's peerless!

Yes, thank you for letting me repeat that. It will mean new homes for many happy Bourgueil.

Is there a better wine (and wine value) for full flavored summer meals from the grill. I do not think so.

The 2006 harvest was great in Bourgueil. The ripeness of the grapes was at the level of 2005 so there was much celebration, but as we know it doesn't take much to start a party in Bourgueil.

The last time I was in Bourgueil my favorite winemaker started pulling the corks on 10 year-old Bourgueils a few minutes after I arrived. Retired grandpere came lickety-split from across the vineyard (he's developed some kind of nose after all those years making Bourgueil and that old-vintage aroma must have floated over to his house). The in-laws from down the street were not far behind and some lucky tourists got folded into the party as well. Christine his wife brought out some fresh-baked gougères and we were all going to town.

And as much as I'd like to believe that I was the special force behind all those wines losing their corks, there is just something about the Loire and its pervasive joie de vivre that makes nobody very shy about drinking up the profits; practically any excuse will do.

But, where is this place called Bourgueil and what is this fabulous wine?

Bourgueil is part of the Touraine. It's north of the Loire River west of Tours. The climate is mild and you will run into the odd palm tree which, I don't know about you, makes me sigh and feel very laid-back. Chinon, which far more people have heard of, is the "other" red Loire. Chinon is just south of Bourgueil on the other side of the river.

Bourgueil, (include Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil here) and Chinon are generally considered the most serious red wines in the Loire with Saumur Champigny following closely. Bourgueil is usually 100 percent Cabernet Franc, as are all the finest reds in the Loire. Cabernet Franc wines are known for their complexity and aroma. Bourgueil is notable for its black cherry and berry taste, its moderate tannins and its perky acidity.

This Bourgueil is made from vines that are 35-years-old, planted on a south-facing slope of clay and limestone that overhangs the valley. These south-facing slopes are considered the best terroir in the area because of both the exposure and the soil. The vineyards are crumbly, white rock - tuffeau is what they call it here.

The wine is aged for up to a year in wood. It is richly colored with a long finish. This is a long-lived wine that gets better and better for 3-5 years from the harvest and then will last for another 5. I never wait five years to drink it because I like a Bourgueil when it is young and fresh, but it is a serious wine, made in a serious manner that can age.

At the peak of maturity, Bourgueil is likely to have an appealing earthy, cigar box flavor with a hint of cloves. For those of you who want a very reasonably priced wine that you can age in your cellar for five years or more, this Bourgueil may be just too good to pass up.

But, back to the party. The sun is starting to set, but the merriment continues. My winemaker friend signals me to follow him and I head off into the vineyard and down a little grassy slope. There is a wooden door at the end, which leads to an ancient cave under the vineyard. It is cool and earthy inside. He snatches a 1985 Beauvais from the back of the rack and we hustle back to the party. I'm having a grand time. I just hope I can still pronounce Bourgueil if I have to. Cynthia Hurley

Domaine Jamet Bourgueil Cuvee Carroi Rozeau  2006  

Domaine Jamet Bourgueil Cuvee Carroi Rozeau 2006

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