by Fred McMillin
for October 5, 1998

 

Grown At Chinon


Prologue

1495 A.D.—Born in Chinon (shee-nown), Francois Rabelais (rah-b'LEH), one of the greatest writers of the 16th century, did much to promote the wines of his home region. He was an advocate of free and joyous living; his greatest work told the story of Gargantua, a giant with a huge appetite (and thirst).

1996 A.D.—There is a steadily-increasing appreciation of the relatively light red wines of Chinon, made from the Cabernet Franc. ...(World Book & Jancis Robinson)


The Rest of the Story

Historian Norman Davies wrote, "The works of Rabelais, ex-monk, ex-lawyer, and physician, form one of the richest mines of literary and historical treasure that early modern Europe can offer." Such a spokesman for your wine would be a public relations dream. And Jancis Robinson's support is not to be taken lightly either. Her Oxford Companion To Wine won eight(!) book-of- the-year type awards soon after publication.

What Rabelaisian dish should we select to pair with our Chinon Cabernet Franc? My wife and I drove to Chinon so she could see on-site the preparation of an omelette that bore his name...to add to her cooking class repertoire. While it was quite robust, with the light red I'd prefer Rabelais' Consomme, made of "bird, beast and fowl, with small dumplings of truffled lark." (from Classical Recipes by Henry Smith)


ChinonThe Chinon Wine

Name—1996 Chinon
Appellation—Chinon Controlee
Producer—Marc Bredif, Rochecorbon, Central Loire, France, Established 1893.
Varietal—100% Cabernet Franc. The Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine says "Chinon Cabernet Franc makes one of the Loire's best red wines." When I last checked, the Loire had as many acres of Franc as did Bordeaux.
Flavors—Light, pleasing cherry and berry.
U.S.A. Contact—Michelle Armour, Oakland, (510) 286-2000
Price—$16


Postscript

While noted primarily for satire and salty humor, Rabelais was pretty serious about wine, as these two quotations indicate. "Never did a great man hate good wine." "Bottle! whose Mysterious Deep, Do's ten thousand secrets keep, with attentive ear I wait, Ease my mind and speak my Fate."


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 

 

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