Coming on the heels of our Top Ten Wines of 2015 list, I struggled while choosing a wine to write about this evening, as whatever I might choose would most likely suffer by comparison. But that’s okay. Top Ten wines are special. Special wines can have elevated price tags; that’s just how markets function, efficiently. If one is to incorporate moderate wine consumption into their lifestyle, the best recommendation that I can give is to be open and taste, taste, taste every wine that you have any interest in tasting. If you’re going to be tasting many wines over a shorter period of time, spit. Most wine tasting facilities offer spit buckets of some kind. So why exactly should we taste everything that we possibly can? Experience. No doubt we will taste wines that we really like, but we’ll also experience wines that don’t exactly hit home with our respective palates. Sometimes, we’ll even come across wines we do not like at all. That is all in everyone’s best interest. It’s important to try and understand why certain wines work for us while others don’t. This will make it easier to find wines to our liking in the future, not to mention unlocking the door to the treasure chest known as, “The best wine values!” A wine that certainly falls into that category is the 2013 Domaine des Corbillières Touraine Rouge Les Demoiselles.
Dominique and Véronique Barbou run the 26 hectare estate in the Loire Valley commune of Oisly, which is approximately 30 km east of Tours. Dominique’s great-grandfather, Fabel, purchased the property in 1923, and together with his grandson, Maurice, built the property up into its current form. TWH regulars are well aware of the tremendous value that the Barbou’s wines provide. Their Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé are house favorites for many of us. Their Touraine Rouge Les Demoiselles has been one of my go-to reds for the better part of a decade. Usually made from Cabernet Franc, Loire Valley reds can be lighter bodied wines that exhibit distinct herbal qualites. Interestingly enough, the Barbou’s Touraine Rouge Les Demoiselles is made of 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 30% Côt (Malbec). For the 2013, the aromas are of lush, plump purple fruit which no doubt is the Côt’s influence. A second whiff reveals a brambly thicket undertone with hints of strawberries which we can attribute to the Pinot Noir. The palate entry is tangy and lively, with the woodsy Cabernet Franc coming into focus. The Côt provides a bit of weight on the palate and the Pinot Noir continues to express its aromatic complexity. The finish is crisp as the tangy mouth feel fades into the wine’s complexity. Being the sort of chap who usually reaches for white wine with his pork roasts or chops, I can easily build a case to pour this 2013 Les Demoiselles the next time I whip some up.
The 2013 Touraine Les Demoiselles isn’t going to make anyone forget about our Top Ten, but it has its place and will continue to provide food pairing pleasure to those who appreciate it. I still remember my very first encounter with a Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. I was perusing the selections at Mill Valley Market and decided it was time to taste a Chinon. I knew very little about Loire Valley wines at this point, as I was still regularly consuming domestic wines. Heeding my own advice mentioned above, I was on a mission to taste (and get to know) more wines out of my comfort zone. The wine was nothing like a rich, ripe, fancy oak barreled Napa Cabernet or the like. It was stemmy, woodsy, crisp and tangy. My palate was surprised to say the least. As I continued to taste more wines from different places, I weened myself from popular local wines and embraced the subtle differences of Old World wines; wines that were less fruit forward, lower in alcohol, which were particularly made to be enjoyed with a meal.
The best tidbit of wine advice that I ever received came from an old boss of mine many years ago, JT. He lived in Napa, collected wine, and knew personally many individuals in different facets of the wine biz. Shortly after hiring me, he learned that I was very interested in wine also. He then told me, “Don’t be concerned about critics and whether or not they like the wines that you like. If you like a wine and a critic pans it, it’s good for you! There will be more of it around and the price will remain low.” Sage advice. We remain friends to this day. – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Loire Valley red wine, Bordeaux, Sauternes, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com