John Paul Kaminga
Cabernet Franc: Hureau Fours a Chaux
One could argue that there are world-renowned crus in the Loire Valley, but aside from a few notable exceptions, the region isn't really there yet. This is a good thing for wine lovers, as the growers and winemakers of the Loire Valley are truly exceptional, and you can find many of the region's finest single-vineyard wines for less than $50.
Château du Hureau might have been responsible for the very first Cabernet Franc I ever tasted. When Keith Mills introduced them to me in 2006 I certainly didn't have a lot of experience with the grape, but I remember that first taste of fine Saumur-Champigny quite well: ripe berries, distinct herbal and vegetal tones, great energy and freshness. Since then, I have come to expect that many of my favorite wines would come from Cabernet Franc grown in the Loire Valley, and Hureau remains at the top of my list.
Certified organic since 2007, committed to low yields and meticulous vineyard care, the work starts in the vineyards of Château du Hureau, as it should. In the winery the grapes are hand sorted, and the aim is to preserve the flavors of fresh fruit that they nurtured over the course of the growing season. The entry-level wines are fermented and aged in steel tanks, while the single-vineyards are raised in large oak vessels (foudres and demi-muids), no new small oak barrels are used (whew!). The resulting wines are truly world-class, and we try to always have something to offer from Hureau. Today we offer their fabulous 2015 Fours a Chaux, a single-vineyard wine from a cru that can easily be considered among the best of the region. What's more, it has a little age, and is hitting its stride. This is a prime example of the Loire absolutely crushing the competition at $25.
Château du Hureau Saumur-Champigny 'Fours a Chaux' 2015 - $25
Takes time for the fruit to blossom, but eventually you get aromas of cherry, blackberry and cassis, with nice cigar box, pencil, violet and petrichor. Tangy and fresh on the palate, a little nervy, but the tannins are fine, and the ripeness of the fruit keeps the cutting acids in check. Beautiful inner perfume of cherry, blue flowers and tobacco. Long and full of character on the finish, so many earthy, leafy and tart fruit nuances. This will develop positively for at least another 5 years, maybe much longer.
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