Clos Rougeard 2005 Saumur Champigny
True confession time. There are countless things I've never done that I feel destined to do. Maybe we all feel that way. For example, I've never played Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet." I've never faced a little chin music from Nolan Ryan. I've never wiped that smirk off Alex Trebek's face. I never married a Walloon. Oh, there's still time yet for me to do all of these things, maybe even memorize the Bible in Pig Latin ("Et-lay ere-thay E-bay ight-lay"), but what's really fun is to finally discover something you didn't even know existed, have the curtain rise on your ignorance and the extinguished lamp on your porch finally turn on. Like the first time you heard Portugese Fado music, or smelled your own toejam. I was unfamiliar with Clos Rougeard until just the other night when I opened a bottle My Gorgeous Samantha had sent me for some special occasion or other, probably Be Kind to Animals Week. Clos Rougeard, it turns out, is one of, if not the, greatest red wine producers of the Loire Valley. How come I'd never heard of it before, much less tasted it? This was a gigantic hole in my wine knowledge, and, believe me, it takes one to know one. Clos Rougeard is one of the great Cabernet Francs in the world, and up until a day or two ago I knew nothing about it. Sort of like being an astronaut and never tasting Tang. On the basis of this one bottle, I'm now a huge fan. It was intriguing and seductive from the first sniff. In many ways it really reminded me of Burgundy, ethereal and earthy, I kept smelling truffles, and slow to reveal itself. But once it started opening up it was quite complex and intriguing. Like most great wines it showed elegance and restraint and purity. I wanted to let it open up even more, but I couldn't stop picking up my glass and tasting it. Tart cherries, truffles, a pinch of spice and a long, long finish. It was addicting, in the way of Burgundy, enchanting and powerful at the same time. It cast a spell on me. And this is Clos Rougeard's least expensive, youngest vines bottling! Holy crap. I need to try their "Les Poyeux" and "Le Bourg!" Thank you, Samantha, I have a whole new outlook on Cabernet Franc and Saumur Champigny. And my own ignorance, which is an appellation to rival the Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA in size.
The HoseMaster Score: 845,299
Disclaimer: HoseMaster of Wine is taped before a live studio audience, and yet still needs canned laughter.
Happy 50th, Robert Mondavi Winery
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