Friday Feature – October 16, 2009

Hello and happy Friday,

Another Perman Wine Selections underground dinner is tonight, and once again it sold out!  Due to the fact that I will be attending my own event, the store will be closed at 6:30 pm tonight.  I will be back with my normal Saturday hours of 11 am till 9 pm tomorrow.

Back to the newsletter…

Many of my customers are huge fans of the wines of the Loire Valley of France. Recently that got me to wondering what it was that really drew all these people in?

There are a lot of theories, but one of my first thoughts involves the fact that the Loire Valley is the underdog region of France.  Bordeaux and Burgundy vie for supremacy in the press, the Southern Rhone has become incredibly popular, yet still the average wine consumer hasn’t really discovered all the gems of the Loire.

The other reason for its popularity among those in the know has to be its price to quality ratio.  There certainly are cult wines in the Loire, one producer whom you will find below.  But for every expensive benchmark, there is a rising star offering great value.

So today’s newsletter focuses on just that.  To start you have a wine that is just being offered in Illinois for the first time.  This is one of the tastiest red values that I have had this year.  No excuse not to at least try it.

Following that bargain is the new and highly anticipated release of the 2005 wines from Clos Rougeard in Saumur-Champigny.  These are incredibly big cult wines throughout the world, and you can certainly count them among the greatest red wines of France.  I’m including First Growth Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundy in that.

So be inspired by the Loire, the “Garden of France” as it’s called provides all of life’s most delicious things, great wine, meat, vegetables and cheese. Let this inspire you to create your own rustic dinner at home, and pop open a great bottle of Loire red.



The Clos de la Briderie vineyard has been in the Girault family since 1854.  As one of the very best vineyards in the Touraine-Mesland a.o.c. of the Loire, it has been owned by French nobility, most notably Count Eudes II of Blois.  It lies along the right side of the Loire River and thus has the sun exposure needed to ripen the local grapes of the area, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Cot (a.k.a. Malbec).

Vincent Girault is one of the best-kept secrets in the Loire wine scene.  Growing up on his family estate Château Gaillard, he oversaw his first harvest at the age of 18.  He has trained extensively around the world, and has emerged with a firm belief that everything starts in the vineyard.  You hear a lot about biodynamic and organic practices, and Girault is another who practices and is certified by Demeter.

The Clos de la Briderie is only a ten-hectare estate and from it he produces a range of white and red wine.  Tasting through the line-up I can say all are of great quality, but the one that really stood out in the lineup is this wine the “Vieilles Vignes” or old-vines.  This is a blend of 30% Gamay, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 40% Cot from 20-40 year old vines.

Terrific aromatics combine dark plum with baking spices like nutmeg.  This is medium bodied with more dark fruit, mineral and soft fine tannins in the mid-palate.  It has excellent length and is so fresh and easy to drink you will find yourself going back for glass after glass till it runs out.  I’m qualifying this as another rustic country bistro red.  A simple beef stew would be a nice match, or pour this on a lazy Sunday afternoon with some charcuterie and cheese.


Clos Rougeard is a legendary estate in the Loire.  Famed enologist and winemaker Charles Joguet (who owns a pretty famous estate himself) once said, “There are two suns.  One shines outside for everyone.  The second shines in the Foucault’s cellar.”

The Foucault’s, Nadi and Charlie took over from their family holdings in the appellation of Saumur-Champigny.  In total, three red wines and one white are produced from the 10 hectares of vineyards.  Everything here as you would expect is done by hand, and vinification methods are very traditional.

2005 is a great vintage for the Loire, although I do have to say that I can’t quite tell you that I have ever had a less than a terrific wine from Clos Rougeard. Because it is such a good vintage, the wines are quite young and should be destined for the cellar.  Below is a brief description of the three reds available.

These are very limited wines, and certainly worth the hype in my opinion!


Of the three Clos Rougeard reds, this is the most accessible in its youth.  This comes from 25 year-old vines from a few different vineyards.  The wine is fermented and aged in old Bordeaux barrels for two years.

Just because this is the entry-level wine, doesn’t mean it is “entry level.”  A great treat to discover what Cabernet Franc can be all about.  Expect mineral, red fruits, a touch of a gamy /meaty thing going on along with some soft tannins on the finish.

You can access this now, but decant for an hour and have it with food.  If you do want to lay it down, it will hit its window from around 2012-2017. A very special wine.


Poyeux is a three-hectare vineyard with 40-60 year-old vines, which are very low yielding.  The wine is fermented in 50% new Allier barrels and then the other half in one year barrels.

Your stepping up another level here, the fruit is a little darker, the structure is a little fuller, and the length is very, very long.  This should be laid down, and you can drink from 2013-2020+.  Just an outstanding wine.


“Le Bourg” is the essence of Cabernet Franc, and is one of France’s greatest red wines.

From a one-hectare parcel of 80+ year-old vines, that was cropped at just 25 hl/ha in 2005.  Because of the incredible fruit, the wine is fermented in 100% Allier oak, each year from one specific cooper.  It is aged in those barrels for 30 months.

This is what the French would call a “vin de garde.” It really shouldn’t be opened now, rather carefully cellared, with its drinking window being from 2015-2025+.

If given the proper time it will unlock its mixture of plum fruit, cassis, mineral, tobacco, truffle and sandalwood.  Trust me, it is worth waiting for.

Only 2500 bottles of this wine was produced in 2005. You will see it here once, and it will be gone.  So if you are looking for a little early holiday present for yourself, then you may want to hurry.

Craig Perman
Perman Wine Selections
802 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
Phone 312-666-4417
Fax 312-666-4487

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