Domaine de la Noblaie Chinon Rouge Les Chiens-Chiens 2017
As opaquely named lieux-dits go, Chiens-Chiens ranks near the top of the list. This site has borne this puzzling name for as long as anyone can remember, and what, “Dogs-Dogs” could have originally meant is pure conjecture. What it means today however, is an elegant Chinon from sandy tuffeau soils sporting dark-fruit flavors and a silky texture –hardly what we’d call a dog.
Domaine la Noblaie is one of the oldest family estates in the Chinon appellation. With 18 hectares of holdings on hillside vineyards in Ligré, the property sits at almost the highest altitude in the entire AOC with commanding views over the river and the 600 year-old Chinon fortress. To say that Noblaie is a magical place doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.
The property is owned and run today by Francois Billard, an oenologist and former professor of viticulture. Many of today’s hottest winemakers were his former students including the immensely-talented Vincent Ogereau. However, after his son Jerome wrapped up the afore-mentioned internships in Bordeaux, California, and Australia, Francois has handed over most of the winemaking responsibilities to his extremely able son.
An important red wine appellation in the Touraine district of the Loire, Chinon produces fanciful, light-bodied reds from the Cabernet Franc grape. Chinon also makes charming rosés from the same grape as well as white wines from Chenin blanc. But the reds give the area its fame. Often scented with fresh herbs, black tea and violets, Chinon reds show a lovely combination of fruit and acidity. However, styles have become more concentrated and ripe in recent years from improvements in vineyard management. Modern methods include planting grass between vineyard rows, using higher trellises and deleafing to increase sunlight to berries and therefore improve ripening. Even still, red Chinon is intended to be a light to medium bodied, refreshing wine to be enjoyed in its youth.
Fuller-bodied Chinons come from vineyard sites on the clay and tuffeau limestone slopes, usually from the southern exposed slopes of Cravant-les-Coteaux, and the plateau above Beaumont. Lighter styled wines come from the sand and gravel vineyards near the Loire or Vienne Rivers with the most refined examples coming from the area around Panzoult
Cabernet Franc, a proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, is the subtler and more delicate of the Cabernets. Today Cabernet Franc produces outstanding single varietal wines across the wine-producing world. Somm Secret—One of California's best-kept secrets is the Happy Canyon appellation of Santa Barbara. Here Cabernet Franc shines as a single varietal wine or in blends, expressing sumptuous fruit, savory aromas and polished tannins.