2005 Cabernet Franc: Hureau Saumur-Champigny

This is going to be a popular offer, and I’ll bet it sells out quickly. Those of you who missed the 2005 Volte Face Bordeaux (sold out, for good), those who loved the 2005 Touraine Rouge (sold out, hopefully coming back in December), those of you who enjoyed the double edged value and quality of the 2001 Biferno Rosso (that seems so long ago, also sold out, but coming back at a higher price due to the dollar), you will all want to get into this. I’ve been telling a number of my good customers to hold tight because this was on the way. The importer was sold out for a month, but now it is finally here. To find Saumur Champigny under $14, much less one of this level, is difficult, and I’m excited we can offer it at such a great price.

I’m not proud of how I found this wine, however. I bought a bottle from another retailer. For shame. They have some interesting wines, so I stop in for a browse every once in a while. I saw the Hureau Saumur Champigny and its nice price so I grabbed it, took it home and opened it near the end of a dinner/evening with a friend of mine. After I poured us each a taste and took a sip, I corked it back up, put it away, and grabbed something lesser. If my buddy had been more alert, he would have seen me twitch in realization that this was too good to waste on a couple of guys who were up past their bedtime. I wasn’t being a snob. But maybe I was being selfish. The next evening, in the absence of my friend, I revisited the nearly full bottle. Soon it was nearly empty, as this is one of those wines that works on a level of deliciousness that draws you back in for sip after sip after sip. I don’t like to drink that much in a sitting as it has its consequences the following day, but sometimes the wine gets the better of you.

I’ve said it before, and I agree, these 2005s are something. Loire Valley Cab Franc in particular if we’re talking all out value and quality. There is something about a fully ripe wine born of a cool climate. In my world of midnight theories and unsubstantiated hypotheses, I came up with an explanation that I would like to present in the form of canine metaphor (my favorite). I think of grape vines as dogs who wait for their owner to accidentily drop a scrap to the floor. If the owner is a clumsy, lazy, food-dropping slob who lets the dog sit at the table on Tuesday nights, then the dog is fat and drowsy and completely spoiled to flatulence by over-consumption. On the other hand is the dog who sits every night waiting for his obsessively, compulsively clean owner to drop a scrap or even a simple crumb from the table. Maybe once a year the neurological pathways of this meticulous owner are scrambled (probably by cell phone waves), and he falters with his fork, dropping a single bite to the floor. The adrenaline-laced excitement this dog feels at this singular occasion is how I suspect northern climate vines must react to a perfect growing season. Normally they are struggling to ripen, pining for a morsel of warmth. And when they get it, watch out! You can taste this excitement in these 2005s. They’re ripe, yet vibrant. There is authority without clumsiness, and the acidity protects the purity of the wine. I won’t carry out the metaphor of the fat, slob dog.

I went back and bought more from this unnamed retailer. On the 2nd approach I finally convinced myself that it would be okay for us to sell it. I would swallow my pride that a competitor had beat us to it. Like the Biferno Rosso “Gironia,” this is just too much wine for the price to pass up, and a case of this won’t last long in anyone’s house. Besides, truth be told, we have a lot of crossover with this retailer, so I guess we have to admit they have good taste, right? I did negotiate a better price on the wine, so I can console myself with that. In the end, what we have is high quality Cabernet Franc at a very good price, and that’s exactly the type that prompts me to write these posts. – Ben Jordan

Tasting Notes
There is no oak on this wine, so all the nuance and complexity is coming from the fruit. Like the 2005 Touraine Rouge from Corbillieres, this wine is one of those finds that is impressive for its pure deliciousness. The difference between this and the Touraine is that this shows more breed and power to the Touraine’s fruity charm. Not to say the Saumur Champ is not charming, it certainly is, but it has this depth and authority that the Touraine did not aspire to and didn’t need to. It has its own niche. This is richer, and it has more structure that you hardly notice because of the silkiness of the fruit. It has the mouthfeel of Burgundy, but the flavors are all Franc that straddle the line between Bordeaux and Saumur Champigny. This one will also solve some problems for those whose motto is, “Always be drinking fine wine.” At the holidays I always find myself at an impasse. I like to drink high quality wine, but the sheer volume that wants to be consumed steers me away from the nicer bottles that I have in my cellar. In a way, I feel guilty. I’m sharing food and celebrating with the people I love: my friends and family. Why am I shorting them on the wine? The answer is purely financial. That’s where a wine like this saves me. It has that extra something, and people can taste it. They know you’re treating them and not just pouring your workhorse house red for them. If we want to drink fine wine thru the holidays, we just have to look for bottles like this.

To order please email winehouse@sbcglobal.net or click here.

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