She's Not For Everyone...

And by "she" I mean Chinon [shee-NOHN]. If you're a fan of herbal, woodsy, earthy, highly nuanced character, this is your wine. To be clear: fruit bomb lovers just looking to "kick the tires" need not apply.

Heading west from our last wine in Quincy, we roll into the Touraine region of France, home to the AOC of Chinon. On the south bank of the Loire river you'll find the star grape of Chinon, Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon's Daddy, Cab. Franc is lower in tannin, acid, and color than its bold son, but serves up some serious aromas on a level where Cab. Sauvignon simply cannot hang.

Saturday, I popped the Vignoble Grosbois Chinon 2005 - $18. Crimson-ruby in the glass, I was in awe at the unmistakable aromas of carbon, tar, and charred wood. Seriously, it was like pouring water on a campfire... Backing down and letting it rest in the glass payed off. In time, notes of toasted bread, black fruit, vegetal hints and forest floor were complicated by a thick layer of leaves. This is Autumn in a glass.

The palate? Medium-bodied. Immediately, my mouth was blanketed by smoky charcoal (think charred steak). Fleeting medicinal flavors immediately shifted into spicy blackberry, mint and peppery vegetal, almost arugula-like qualities.

Begging for food, I indulged in a seared ribeye with mushroom risotto that swiftly validated this wine's existence.

Be assured, I admire Chinon. Living in the shadow of Bordeaux and Burgundy, it is truly an unsung hero in the world of French wine though, I'm nearly certain 90% of you wouldn't agree. If you want to grow your palate and gain some real perspective, reach for a Chinon. But, as I said - She's not for everyone.