Chinon has taken over my dinner table. Lamb with mint sauce is one reason, but there are many others. Mainly, mushroom risotto, grilled salmon, smoked ham, and grilled filet. It is a delicious and versatile Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley's Chinon region that will elevate many tough to pair dishes.
If you are not familiar with the brilliance of Cabernet Franc, it is the unsung hero of classified Bordeaux, lending the great growths their signature depth. When Cab Franc is not adding a pepper and cassis element to Mouton Rothschild, it is behind the beautifully refined wines of the Loire Valley.
One of the best examples to don my table recently is "Les Hauts & Les Bas" by Domaine Jaulin Plaisantin, where the Cab Franc produces a delicious red wine with finesse, notes of tobacco, raspberry, cassis, violets, and fresh sweet peppers. "Les Hauts & Les Bas" translates to "the highs and lows." It refers to the two types of terroir selected for this particular source of the grapes: the highs on the plateau of Cravant (with its clay and flinty soils) produce a lean, mineral driven Cab Franc; those grapes are blended with the lows of the alluvial soil near the Vienne River (with its lush, riper fruit).
Together, they produce this outstanding wine that reminds us of a blue blazer or little black dress; they are great for every dinner occasion and never go out of style.