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The Child that Got His Own

Barring unrepresentative bottles, we are always quite pleased with the wines we pour for you, but we are absolutely psyched about these five wines, representing the parent-offspring relationship between three grapes. The proud parents: Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. The celebrated offspring: Cabernet Sauvignon. Here are two Sauvignon Blanc and two Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley, the homeland, followed by an extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, the region that today is perhaps the world's most visible ambassador of this storied grape.

Domaine Augis Valencay 2017

One of the most interesting examples of Loire Sauvignon you'll find, this wine shows the wild side of the variety. Ripe and pungent, with classic citrus and mineral notes next to tropical and floral references, it turns fresh and crisp on the finish, as one expects from a fine Sauvignon. Always a killer value, one can imagine that if Domaine Augis could write "Sancerre" on their label, instead of "Valencay", this wine would be $30+.

Henri Bourgeois Sancerre 'Les Baronnes' 2017

Ten generations of the Bourgeois family have made wine, and they have grown into a sizable operation in the Loire Valley. While not certified organic, they are very focused the health of their land, growing grass between vineyard rows and severely limiting chemical intervention. Their Sancerre 'Les Baronnes' is sourced from several parcels on the hills between Sancerre and Chavignol, and it represents a very typical style for the region: subtle, mineral, powerfully acidic without being aggressive, long and pure on the finish. The 2017 growing season was warm and there's a little extra ripeness, but it remains a classic expression of Sancerre. Fresh chalky goat cheese is the traditional pairing, but this wine will be awesome with all sorts of simply prepared fresh seafood, poultry and green things; avoid sweetness and vinegar.

Lame Delisle Boucard Bourgueil 'Cuvee Prestige' 2014

This wine is must-try for fans of fresh earthy reds. Always presenting a smorgasbord of vegetative and earthy nuances, in 2014 the fruit element of this wine is a bit more intense than usual. Aromas of leafy greens, black walnuts and mushrooms are intriguing and diverting, while fresh crunchy berry flavors focus and refresh the palate; it's a surprisingly complex wine for $15, incredibly delicious if you're ok with a significant non-fruit character. It also ages remarkably well; a 2005 consumed last year was going strong.

Charles Joguet Chinon 'Clos de la Dioterie' 2014

The Napa Cab described below is killer, but this wine is probably the best reason to make it to our tasting tomorrow. The Clos de la Dioterie is an exceptional vineyard in the Chinon appellation; most of the famous vineyards would face south here, but this remarkable site faces north-east. The old vines of Clos de la Dioterie (70 to 80 years old) must take their time, and it is here that the Joguet family harvests its last grapes each year; when the autumn weather cooperates, these vines ripen Cabernet Franc to a unique and delectable maturity. The 2014 growing season will go down as one of the most successful, yet improbable, vintages of the Loire Valley. It started with an deluge of messy weather, but ended with a long dry autumn. Good winemakers probably made a lot less wine in 2014, but they had the chance squeeze remarkable flavors out of uncommonly concentrated grapes. The best Loire Valley Cabernet Franc wines of 2014 will be monuments to the potential of the mostly underrated red wines of the region. The 2014 Clos de la Dioterie is, without a doubt, one of the best examples of pure Cabernet Franc you'll ever taste. Simple as that. Don't miss it!

Rafael et Fils Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

In the southern reaches of Napa Valley the climate is heavily influenced by the cool San Pablo Bay. Los Carneros is close enough to the bay to be a great place to grow grapes for sparkling wine, while just north one finds the Oak Knoll District, with some of Napa's coolest Cabernet Sauvignon sites. The Rafael family's vineyard is in the southern end of the Oak Knoll District AVA, right on the border of the Mt. Veeder AVA, situated on steep south-facing slopes rising to 400 feet in elevation. Here the Cabernet Sauvignon grape ripens slowly and to perfect maturity at lower potential alcohol. The 2014 Rafael et Fils Cabernet Sauvignon comes from two blocks at the top of their vineyard. The grapes are destemmed, fermented on the skins for 2 weeks and aged in small French oak barrels (40% new) for 23 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered at a moderate (for Napa Valley) 14.2% abv. We were impressed by its combination of intense ripe dark fruit qualities and cool botanical notes, as well as its substantial but gentle and elegant tannic structure, contributing to a rich and velvety texture. Classic notes of cassis, blackberry, licorice, cedar and graphite are complemented by more subtle notes of flowers, red fruits and chocolate.

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