2020 François Cazin – Le Petit Chambord, Cour-Cheverny Blanc, Loire Valley, France.
The bright and crisp 100% Romorantin Cour-Cheverny from François Cazin – Le Petit Chambord is a lovely example of this unique Loire Valley varietal with fresh citrus, green apple, white peach and a touch of tropical fruit on the light, smoothly rounded and mineral driven palate. The lemon/lime and wet stones here make this white great with creamy goat cheese and or briny sea foods and with air a bit more texture appears allowing some cuisine flexibility, there is a lot to like here with delicate spicy elements adding complexity. Romorantin is a sibling of Chardonnay, and was once very widely grown in the Loire region, but it is now almost only seen in the Cour-Cheverny AOC, making it very much a rarity, it sometimes produces an intense wine, though always with a steely charm and with the limestone bedrock under soils composed of silica and clay there is some resemblance to Chablis in good vintages. This pale straw colored 2020 is maybe a touch riper than I’m used to with this grape and it has a pleasing mouth feel and a lingering tangerine note that I very much enjoyed, this is one for those that are looking to explore in unfamiliar areas of the Loire Valley, beyond Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. Not that easy to find, François Cazin is imported by Louis/Dressner, and I recommend chasing down his wines, especially this one.
Most of my experience with Romorantin has been via the Cour-Cheverny La Porte Doree by Philippe Tessier, a natural wines vigneron, and his style is a bit more oxidative, while this Le Petit Chambord by François Cazin is more fresh and has beautiful clarity of fruit and flavors. Cazin uses vines that are between 40 to over 90 years old, hence the concentration and he ferments his Romorantin with a direct pressing of the juice in stainless steel. After primary fermentation the Cour-Cheverny sees an elevage is in used 300L barrels for six months, then racked over to underground vats until the following spring when it is bottled to preserve vibrancy. This cuvée does complete full malolactic and only sees a small dose of SO2 at bottling and is unfined and unfiltered to showcase every nuance of terroir and varietal purity in a wine that expresses its fruit and gives a nice textural quality, which is all evident in this pretty 2020 version. Created in 1993, Cheverny is one of the most recent appellations in the Loire Valley, but wine has been made here since the 6th century, it is not far from Touraine, where you find Pinot Noir, Gamay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Malbec (Cot), Cabernet(s) and Romorantin as well as a few other grapes. It is worth mentioning that this area has blended wines, especially with the reds, along with classic single varietal offerings, such as this one, making for some very interesting wines, all of which are mostly acid driven and quaffable in style, this is probably why it is such a hotbed for natural winemaking. I’ve only had Cazin’s wines a few times, but I look forward to trying a few more soon!
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive