Monday, December 21, 2009

WN: Domaine de la Chevalier 1996 Bourgueil Les Galichets

A 13 year old Bourgueil? Yes: Domaine de la Chevalier 1996 Bourgueil Les Galichets. So what if Cab Franc isn't considered an aging wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. Terroir usually trumps the grape variety anyway. I doubt many mid-priced Cali Cabs are much good at 13 years.

Upon first pour, what I noticed was how mellow the flavors were, yet at the same time lively. There was very refreshing acidity, which explains the vitality, along with mature tannins. While the wine showed plenty of raspberry and currant-like fruit, a refined herbaceousness had the largest impact on the wine's profile. The nose had a grassy aroma that I've tasted before in both Bourgueils and Chinons (more on this later). Additionally, the finish showed a spicy herbaceousness on the finish that was unique and delicious. Some wines have medicinal, herbal flavors, but this was different. It was pure and lingering instead of muddy and overbearing. Although there was a little leather, it was a relatively small component given the age and appellation. This wine was more than just hanging on at 13 years. It was in its prime, well-resolved yet very much alive.

What really sticks out to me is the particular 'brand' of herbaceousness in this cuvée. This grassy aroma, with an odd hint of lemon zest, showed up almost identically in the 2007 Baudry Les Granges and 2007 Breton Galichets. Galichets translates to gravel, and all three of these wines were made from fruit grown on gravel terroir. (I am uncertain if the Breton and Chevalier Galichets are the same vineyard, or simply the same soil type). I'm beginning to think this particular herbaceousness is unique to Cab Franc grown in gravel. I've commented previously that I prefer the limestone and clay terroirs more, and I think it's because the innate green nuance of the variety shows differently, more as fresh tobacco and bell pepper than cut grass.

So why did I like this aged Chevalier Galichets more than the young Breton Galichets? I'm not certain, but the aging has rounded the edges off. In particular, the herbaceousness seemed more refined and mellow instead of biting and intense. Although this wasn't my favorite style of Franc, it was a really nice find at peak maturity with excellent provenance for the price.

Pros: Mellow Herbaceousness, Medium Body, Lively Acidity & Fruit, Mature Tannins, Balanced
Cons: A Bit Grassy
Decant: Maybe, not much development
Price: $25 from Vinfolio
QPR: Fair/Good (out of Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good or Excellent with Fair denoting expectations were met for the price point)


Jeff said...

I'm glad that wine worked out for you. Seems like it was interesting. It's too bad there aren't more affordable aged wines that are easy to get at.

You ought to check out this site; I've been reading it for a few months and I think it's really funny, but anyways, guy reviewed Clos Rougeard and coupled with what you said, it made me want to really seek it out.

CabFrancoPhile said...

You might still be able to find some Rougeard, but the pickins are slim right now. I'm just not going to touch mine for at least 5 years based on the advice I've received.

I don't read Hose Master regularly, but he's a funny guy all right!