In the true spirit of WBW, this one made me think. And read. And dig through my cellar. Wines that I thought certainly have to be under the requisite 12.5% alcohol, turned out to be 13%, 13.5%, even 14%. I looked at California Gamays, Austrian Zwigut, Cru Beaujolais (last years leftover nouveau just wouldn't count), Pinots, all manner of Bordeaux, and I had only two wines I could find that fit the bill...An Antinori Chianti Classico (that was a surprise) and my chosen bottle from the land of the light reds...the Loire. Yes, it appears true that the world around, red wine is getting higher in alcohol percentages, even in traditionally "lite" areas.
The wines of the Loire have consistently been a staple of the Paris bistros, from the fruity Muscadets, to the flinty chenin blancs of Savienerres, to the lovely reds of Samur and Anjou. The Loire is home to both simple farmland and the most outrageous castles. It is always associated with good value, and my choice is no exception.
2003 Domaine des Corbillieres Touraine Cabernet
Domaine des Corbillieres is situated in the central part of the Loire, about 30 km from the amazing castle of Chambord. It is a small family-run vineyard run by Véronique & Dominique Barbou, and has been in their family for three generations. By all accounts, the Barbous have been regularly putting out very high quality whites, as well as some simple, but delicious reds. First off, though, the label says "cabernet" but their own website lists only cabernet franc. A little digging confirmed that indeed, it's cab franc.
The wine is purple, thinning out to a deep pink at the edges. It looks and smells like a wine from neighboring Chinon. Lilacs and bright fruit are on the nose, with very little stemmy or sulfurous residues.
The flavor is surprisingly dark and intense, with a very long pleasant finish, far denser than most Loire reds I've had, with the exception of Jouget's huge Chinons. The fruit is slightly raisin-y, and I suspect that is due to the hot weird weather in France in 2003. This is a very drinkable wine, and went perfectly with my lamb kebobs with garlic, thyme, and rosemary. A steal at $11.99 at the Wine House.
For those who are new to the reds of the Loire, you'll find they are very food-friendly, and well worth exploring. Local Bay Area readers will find a good assortment at Kermit Lynch as well, especially some good Samurs and red Anjou.
thanks to Tim at the Winecast for this fun exercise. I do hope someone found a low alcohol zin!