Cabernet Franc is an important part of most of the great wines of Bordeaux. In that region it usually plays second fiddle to the dominant grape in the blend, either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. In the Loire valley, however, it gets the starring role, and the wines of Chinon offer the most beguiling expression of the grape to be found anywhere. There Cabernet Franc makes rounder and fuller wines than it does in other places, while still showing the graphite and chalkiness that defines its character in Bordeaux.
Our source for Chinon is the Domaine Fabien Demois, whose vines are in Cravant le Coteaux, a hamlet in the south-facing alluvial plain along the Vienne. The Domaine Demois has a familiar story. Fabien, a 30-something winemaker who took over the family’s vineyards, stopped selling the grapes to the local cooperative and began making wines with character. He changed to organic farming techniques and is his wine is now certified organic. Fabien produces a regular and an old vine cuvée, and both are excellent. They are eminently drinkable young, and in many years have considerable capacity to develop with bottle age.