Monday, January 25, 2010

The challenges I enjoy

One of the things that I enjoy most about my position at Mercy are the challenges that are put to me from our guests. While we do offer over 100 wines by the glass, invariably there comes a request for a selection from “off the list.” You always need to have a special vintage or varietal to tempt the frequent Mercy customer, something that you can offer that will bring a new experience. When I heard, "so Vincent, what do you have new this week?", I was ready for the challenge and I opened a bottle of Domaine Chanteleuserie Bourgueil Rouge 2006.

Cabernet Franc is lighter bodied and has much less tannin content than other red wines. They are generally ready to drink soon after bottling. Having a reputation for being a refreshing, youthful wine should not obscure the fact that these are full bodied wines. Cabernet Franc wines are capable of aging magnificently over many years. In their youth, they have the aromas of red raspberries and cherries, but develop more complex notes as they age.

Fine old Cabernet Franc wines can, in the words of one Loire Valley winemaker, be reminiscent of the aromas of a forest after a rainstorm. Young Cabernet Franc is an ideal red wine for summer. It is sufficiently fruity to be refreshing, when served slightly chilled, yet it has enough structure to stand up to the flavors of a barbecue. Older, bigger wines are delicious with roasted meats and are probably the ideal accompaniment to the traditional roast leg of lamb with flageolet beans.

The vineyards of Bourgueil, on the north bank of the Loire river lie between Saumur and Tours, are planted mostly with Cabernet Franc, with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. Vines have been cultivated here since the Roman times. The founding of the Abbey of Bourgueil, in 990, marked the beginning of the development of viticulture and winemaking. The vineyards are planted on two kinds of soil: lighter, warmer soils with high percentages of sand and gravel, yield supple, fruity wines which can be drunk young. Vineyards on the south-facing hillsides, where the soil contains more clay and limestone, yield richer, earthier wines that take longer to reach their full potential. Most of the wines are red, although there is some rosé as well. The vineyards benefit from being open to Loire, which carries the Atlantic's regulating influence inland. The slopes are south facing, with forests that protect vines from the harsh north winds, creating a moderate climate for producing some of the best Cabernet Franc wines.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner