Sunday, May 10, 2020

Could you drink this glass of wine? I didn't. How I Failed the Chinon test.

Could you drink this glass of wine? I didn't.
Didn't do the Chinon test*.
Domaine de Beauséjour Chinon (AOC) 2012, 13% 
Rabelais presides over the threshing in Chinon

I didn’t quite make the cut for membership when I visited the Caves Painctes of Chinon, the headquarters of the Confrerie de Bons Entonneurs Rabelaisiens, situated in a network of subterranean tunnels running beneath the chateau. You have to drink a glass of wine. What’s the problem? You may well ask. The problem is the glass takes a whole bottle and you must finish it without a pause! 

Quote from Rabelais
The town of Chinon, in the Loire Valley, is a terrific visit, especially if you go late August/ early September. We visited a few years back and the highlight was a day-long vintage fair with an old fashioned threshing. Thirsty work and, for a short spell, we withdrew from the streets to Caves Painctes.

The Chinon appellation lies, mostly, in the “vee” where the Vienne River (on whose bank Chinon stands) joins the Loire on its way west. Cabernet Franc is very much the red grape here, no rivals. The grape is also well known for its key part in Bordeaux blends.

Though Chinon Cabernet Franc can last longer, the general advice to to drink it at five years. Perhaps its best days are behind this one? That was the doubt in my mind as I started with this bottle (bought in Karwig's before the closedown) while simultaneously starting to view a film called The Help, the story of three “extraordinary” women, one white, who together question the “values” of 1960 Mississippi society in a dangerous time.

I found the “high society" accents, combined with the white attitudes (black maids, the help, couldn’t even use the same toilets as the family), hard to take. It wasn’t all racial, the rich pampered women were just as nasty towards a “white trash” woman who was hoping for acceptance into their snobby circle. At that early stage, the wine was on the quiet side for me. Happily, both the film, as the main characters began to shine (and my ear got used to the accents), and the wine improved as the evening wore on.
Chinon. Chateau is top left

Colour of this 2012 100% Cab Franc is a mid ruby. Aromas hint of harmony between fruity and floral, red fruits such as strawberry and raspberry and violet. Well rounded now, nothing too deep or intense, just a harmonious wine making its pleasant way, with a touch of tannins on the lips, to a harmonious finish. Nice bit of acidity too so should be fine with lightweight food. Not too sure about southern fried chicken though!

Unusual shoulder label on the bottle, a quote from local hero Rabelais: Very crazy who never gets drunk… That’s the Google translation. I think he means you should get drunk at least once in your life. And, since he was a native of these parts, he probably means on a bottle of Chinon. Or a glass!
Another Rabelais quote on the label here.
*  More than likely, you'd need to be invited to become a member.

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