In the right place, at the right time, Cabernet Franc can be magical. And, in the Loire, in 2013, as a rosé, this Cabernet Franc is superb. As summer approaches, my attention has turned towards the bounty of dry, light rosé wines that only a few years ago were non-existent in most wine shops. Mention pink wine to one of my classes five years ago and the only comment made was something about the aberration that was White Zinfandel.

Let’s fast forward, shall we. Past the aisles of sweet, cloying White Zin that litter the jug wine department of most wine shops… Right into the veritable birthplace of real rosé wines, Southern France. Okay, but this review is about a Loire Valley region called Chinon… yes, true, but nothing would be pink in France were it not for the masters of pink wine, the vignerons of Provence… Now that we’ve paid credit where credit is due, let’s focus on the subject at hand.

Chinon is a well-known wine making region in the central Loire Valley along the Vienne River. Known primarily for its Cabernet Franc-based red wines, Chinon is very similar to the region of Bourgueil, only lighter in character. A similar trait is the predominant limestone overtones, derived largely from the limestone soils that dominate the area. Because I have a natural affinity for the unusual, I was drawn to this rosé Chinon.

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Couly Dutheil was established in 1921 by Baptiste Dutheil, and was subsequently developed by René Couly (who married Madeleine Dutheil). The winery has remained a family-owned affair with third and fourth generation Coulys in control. The family sources grapes from 130 hectares (316 acres) of vineyard land in Chinon, of which, 90 (218 acres) hectares are directly owned by the family. Most of their production stays in France, with only about 15% (15,000 cases) making it to the export market. Given that most of their production is red wine, this rosé is fairly rare, but it is definitely worth seeking out.

Based on the fact that their wines are shipped primarily to the better restaurants in France, finding the René Couly Rosé locally was a real treat and at an average bottle price of $14.99 pre-discount, represents a real value.

My tasting note:

Fresh, fruity nose with strawberry, rose petal and slate hints. Medium-bodied with firm acidity – well balanced. Soft, seductive palate with lovely red berry and floral notes. Moderate length – smooth with a crisp, clean finish. Drinking well now – not for aging… Perfect for summer quaffing! Good value.

Cheers!

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