The Château d’Épiré is a pillar of excellence in the heart of the Loire Valley. Though you may be more acquainted with Vouvray and Sancerre, this quaint village along the Loire River is the source of some of the best values in Chenin Blanc. And, though there is no such classing system in the Loire, if there were, there is no question that Château d’Épiré’s would be a Grand Cru. Now, they are best known for their whites and make only one red, but when our team was tasting with the Bizard family earlier this year, it was their sole Cabernet Franc that stuck in our memory. Seemingly an afterthought at a winery so well known for Chenin, it is one of the most textbook Anjou reds we’d all tasted in some time. Sourced from a rare clos, or a walled-in Medieval vineyard, it is a true testament to just how much value you can get if you know where to look.
Cabernet Franc is usually defined by its inherently herbal nature. The crucial component in well- balanced Cab Franc is the balance achieved between this earthiness and the fruit of the wine. This Anjou rouge is at once supple and round with notes of ripe red plum and bing cherry highlighting its earthier side–where things like freshly raked leaves, jalapeño, and damp earth come through. It is fresh, but with a degree of depth and concentration rarely found in Loire Valley reds.
Sourced from a walled-in vineyard planted exclusively to Cabernet Franc, Clos de Cerisaie is so named for the prominence of cherry trees surrounding the clos, which the Bizards insist give a distinctly cherry-tinged flavor profile in the wine year after year. The vines are over forty years old, planted to slate-based soils. The wine is harvested manually, fermented with indigenous yeasts, and aged exclusively in steel. Per importer Kermit Lynch’s request, the wine is neither fined nor filtered.