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In the Loire Valley’s great appellations of Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny, the Cabernet Franc grape is capable of producing some of France’s finest reds. From the best vineyard sites, these wines can rival top Bordeaux in age-worthiness, and the price of entry is a mere fraction compared to that of a classified growth. Les Varennes du Grand Clos is a slope of siliceous clay and limestone that has proven its ability to yield complex Chinons that stand the test of time—old bottles from decades past are still in their prime. Farming is organic, and the wine ages for over a year in barrel before bottling. The trademark of Les Varennes is its finesse: while structure is certainly not lacking, there is a harmony to fruit, acid, and tannins that allows us to pull the cork today. Its earthy flavors pair perfectly with rustic French cuisine; try a beef stew or wild mushrooms for a guaranteed match.
|Vineyard:||Planted in 1962 to 1976, 4.61 ha|
|Soil:||Siliceous chalk & clay|
|Aging:||Wine ages in oak fûts for 15-16 months, depending on the vintage, after racking, the finished wine rests assembled in cuve for two months before bottling|
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch