Chinon may be the most unknown appellation for American consumers of red wine in all of France. It's from the Loire valley and when most of us think of that region we think Sancerre, Pouilly Fume or Muscadet which of course are all white wines. Red wine from the Loire is not only uncommon but it is often just not very good. The reds are made from Cabernet Franc with an allowance for a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. They used to be mostly thin, uninteresting wines that tended to be under-ripe and overly acidic. Nowadays though (and maybe this is partly another effect of climate change on wine production), there are new Chinons in the market that are fuller and fruitier yet balanced enough to pair with whatever you want to throw at them. Which brings me to today's offering from small negociant Foucher-Lebrun. Negociants are producers that source grapes from various growers (Jadot and Drouhin are well known negociants). So while their wines may not be estate grown and bottled, if their sources are good then the wines may be also.
This 2009 Chinon was a perfect match for a beef brasciole that my wife made us today. It featured somewhat reticent aromas of spicy baked cherry and licorice, but flavor-wise it was very forward and easy to drink with medium bodied dark fruit flavors and that bell pepper quality that is very typical of Cabernet Franc. It finishes smooth with good acidity and cut that gives it a lingering freshness. Imported by one of my favorites, Polaner Selections, this Chinon is an excellent value at a mere $9.99. Cheers.