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2002 Domaine Taluau-Foltzenlogel "Vieilles Vignes" Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Loire Valley, France

02_taluau.jpgI'm sure I'm going to end up on some Homeland Security watch list, or at least on the Republican National Committee blacklist for this but who cares. I'm reviewing a French wine on Independence Day. Consider it an homage to the philosophical underpinnings of our own revolution, a tip-of-the-hat to the ideological impetus behind our eventual independence.

In a further obfuscatory and untraditional manner, I've reviewing a Loire wine, but not one of the famous Sauvignon Blanc based wines of the region. Instead I'm reviewing this lovely Cabernet Franc based wine from Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, a small appellation smack-dab in the middle of the Loire Valley.

True Francophiles will show no surprise at a red wine from the Loire, knowing that in fact the valley and it's appellations have the highest diversity of vine varieties anywhere in France. The Loire grows, among other things: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Malbec, Meunier, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Additionally this region plays host to the largest number of hybrid varieties in France.

Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil is an 1800-or-so acre appellation on the north bank of the Loire, just to the west of the larger and more well known Bourgueil region. It's wines are exclusively made from the Cabernet Franc varietal and are quite unknown in the states.

Joel Taluau has had an estate in the region longer than almost any other, making him one of the forefathers of the appellation. Taluau has about 50 acres of vines in the light soil of the region, divided into recently planted young vines and a section of old vines planted in 1934. It is these older vines that are responsible for this wine. "Just like man, the vine does stupid things up to the age of 20, from 20 to 40 it gets wiser and after that it's a question of philosophy," says Taluau, who now receives help from his son-in-law Foltzenlogel in running the estate.

Despite Taluau's advancing age, things continue to be run at the winery according to his prescription of winemaking, which amazingly involves no oak. The wines are fermented in steel and bottled directly, in the case of the young vines, or after a period of resting for the old vines. No filtering is done of any kind, and fining is done only with egg whites.

One of the most astonishing things about this wine is the low alcohol level (12.5%) despite the wine having very distinct and pleasurable fruit flavors -- further proof that high alcohol levels are not required to get round fruit flavors from a red wine.

Tasting Notes:
A medium garnet in the glass this wine has the nuttiest nose I've ever perceived on a red wine, with loads of crushed almonds, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts overlaying aromas of dried cranberry and figs. In the mouth it posesses light, juicy flavors of raspberries, redcurrant, rosehips, and continues to incorporate notes of almond. The wine has a nice acidity and very light, nearly imperceptible tannins that stretch into an incredibly long finish, despite the wines lightness and relative simplicity. One of the lightest, yet most distinctive Cabernet Franc's I have ever had.

Food Pairing:
This is a delicate wine that could easily be overwhelmed with strong flavors. I'd suggest matching it with something like this gorgeous heirloom tomato tart.

Overall Score: 9

How Much?: $16

This wine is available for purchase over the Internet. Be sure you're buying the "Vieilles Vignes."

Comments (7)

HugeJ wrote:
07.05.05 at 4:35 PM

Not to pick at a scab, but what kind of name is that (Domaine Taluau-Foltzenlogel "Vieilles Vignes" Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil)? Am I supposed to remember that without writing it down? What if I remember most of it, but end up with their second label? Now if only there were a way to simplify it with a short, catchy name....but how? how indeed?


Terry Hughes wrote:
07.05.05 at 4:41 PM

Because Red Bicyclette is taken.

Alder wrote:
07.05.05 at 4:48 PM


Far be it for me to play the other side of the fence, but it actually isn't THAT complicated. Certainly not as complicated as some Bordeaux can be.

I suppose the owners didn't have to name their estate after themselves, but Talua-Foltzenlogel IS actually their name. Vieilles Vignes just means "old vines" and as for Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil well, is it their fault that instead of choosing a short name like Rutherford or Barossa, someone chose to call their appellation by a 23 letter, multiple hyphenated phrase?

When you really look at it this name is structurally more simple than:

2002 BillyBob's Winery "Old Vine" Zinfandel, Beatty Ranch, Howell Mountain, Napa.

roehl wrote:
07.06.05 at 11:00 AM

good one! i recently tasted a 2003 Breton Bourgueil Trinch! that really surprised me away with its flavors and food affinity. Plus the price was excellent.

If i remember correctly, it only had about 11% alcohol. I'm really beginning to shy away from high alcohol wines. Some manage it better, most recent one was a 2003 Loring PN Garys' Vineyard at 15.2% --- delicious and the heat did not poke out unlike the '03 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvee (ugh!).

Ben wrote:
07.06.05 at 9:14 PM

What if you went to the computer store and all the models, regardless of price and components either said "Apple" or "PC"? You'd be complaining, yes you would. As confusing as French labels can be, they actually give you a lot of information that you probably do want to know.

Personally, I think the answer is the back label. If you're exporting to a country that doesn't speak your language or generally doesn't understand your system of appelation, write all that crap on the back.

Joanne wrote:
07.23.05 at 6:21 PM

This wine has such a great nose of chicken sausage and charcuterie that you *want* to drink it. But it is a bit thin and watery with notes of red plums and a hint of tea on the finish. It has great acids - but it doesn't seem to have the strength of cabernet franc - it doesn't stand up to roasted meats and it's a bit too thin on its own to give pleasure - although I do like that tea finish. After a few days open it has a bit more character but not the depth you could hope for based on the nose...

Adam wrote:
09.01.06 at 7:25 AM

Give this wine a few minutes to breathe after opening. An exceptional bottle for $14.99. Pronounced toast at the start with a vanilla-esque finish. The low alcohol content is perfect; any higher and it would be a much different story.

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