Rosé du Loire? Mais oui! Cabernet Franc’s Lighter Shade

The Bay Area is experiencing an unseasonable hot spell.  And here, like most places suffering under the unrelenting rays of our nearest star, rosé is king. 

But not just any rosé.  Survey the bottles of blush pinch-hitting for rouge in wine enthusiasts’ lineups these days, and you’ll find a predominance of wine from Southern France.  And rightly so – no region does rosé better than the appellations bordering the sun-lit Cote d’Azur.  But Provence is not the only show in town.  Other regions, not only in France but also in Spain, Germany, and Italy, produce delightful examples of warm weather’s red-substitute. 

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Find Rosés from this Article: 

Provence Rosé
Sancerre Rosé

If pink is the new red, then Provence is the Prada to the Loire’s Gap.  Far less fashionable than its southern cousin, rosé from the Loire Valley nonetheless deserves to be in the regular rotation of those who appreciate distinctiveness and utility in their wines. 

Sancerre rosé, perhaps the easiest to find of the Loire’s pink wines, is usually composed of Pinot Noir.  Rosé bearing the broader designate Touraine can include a number of different grapes and is typically a blend of several indigenous varietals.  Each of these is worth tasting.  But my favorite is probably the least common Loire rosé of all – 100% Cabernet Franc from Chinon and Saumur.

Regular readers of this column may find this unsurprising.  I’ve written in the past of my affection for Loire Cabernet Franc (see Life is Like a Mixed Case of Loire Cabernet Franc and Bourgueil].  But for all my gushing about the red wine from Saumur, Chinon, and especially Bourgueil, I haven’t mentioned those regions’ equally interesting rosé – until now.  In part this is because retail shelves aren’t exactly overflowing with Cab Franc rosé, which makes up a very small percentage of these regions’ annual output (rosé of all types constitutes only 12% of the Loire’s total production).  But they can be found, and once discovered, they warrant a try.

Why?  Two words: typicity and versatility

I say typicity rather than terroir because I overuse the word terroir.  And because typicity, like versatility, ends in ity.  But I’m trying to get at more or less the same idea – that the experience of drinking the wine (taste, texture, smell, sense memory) reflects the distinctive material out of which the wine is made (grapes, vines, land, weather). 

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.