2018 François Cazin Cour-Cheverny
Region: France, Loire – Touraine
Grape Variety: Romorantin
Dry, med-bodied white; honey, pears | Cold-smoked ham
Hand-harvested, fermented in concrete vessels with native yeasts. 4 months ageing on the lees in old oak. Additional 12 months ageing in concrete. No filtration.
Any dish with hints of smoke helps to bring out the remarkable scent of fresh hay, honey and pears, so we like it with Cantonese style tea-smoked pigeon, dry Memphis-style barbecue and smoked haddock and trout.
Romorantin is an indigenous Loire variety that is a cousin of Chardonnay. Due to this genealogy, it is perhaps unsurprising that Romorantin in its most basic incarnation is often likened to Chablis, although it demonstrates its true extraordinary potential when allowed to ripen fully. While the variety used to be grown widely throughout the Valley, it is now found exclusively in the Cour-Cheverny appellation. There is a surviving total of 35 registered winemakers in this AOC today. The appellation was established in 1997 to protect this rare but historic grape variety. François Cazin can lay claim to owning the oldest extant Romorantin vines in the world!
Cour-Cheverny is the dedicated sub-region of Cheverny where only Romorantin may be used. This sits within the larger 350 ha appellation of Cheverny, where reds, rosés and whites may all be made. Cheverny is in the northeast corner of Touraine, near the beautiful city of Blois with its towering Gothic steeples. This is the part of the Loire furthest inland before Sancerre. Indeed, the medieval connection to Cour-Cheverny wines goes even deeper, as it was said that the Romorantin grape was introduced to by King François I in the early 16th century.
The Cazin family have worked their Le Petit Chambord estate for five generations. François himself has been making wine since 1976, long before other winemakers jumped on the bandwagon of the new AOC status for both Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny. The vines François currently farms vary dramatically in age, with some planted back in 1928 and the youngest in 2003. His philosophy is simple: "It's how things have been done in my family." This means almost no chemical intervention, hand-harvesting, natural yeasts, and a patient elevage before releasing the wines. Geologically, the region sees a mix of clay, chalk and silex, however François has a propensity towards the heavier clay soils, with more silex in Cheverny, and a fraction more chalk in Cour-Cheverny.
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