Red wines of the Touraine, in the center of France’s Loire Vallely, have been famous since the Middle Ages but are not generally well known in the U.S. They are much appreciated by the throngs of tourists that visit the region during the summer, but the wines are not widely exported and their style tends to be somewhat elusive. Only recently have winemaking standards caught up to more famous regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy.
After years of assuming a secondary role to the more widespread Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc seems to be staging a comeback. Its soft, scented red wines are less aggressive than Sauvignon, more precocious, and may be enjoyed with a wide variety of foods. This has resulted in Loire Valley reds suddenly coming back into fashion. The bistros of Paris have long been aware of them, as being good substitutes for Beaujolais, Bordeaux and even Côtes-du-Rhône, but a newer generation of winegrowers is crafting them in a more modern style and making them even better than ever.
Mabileau is a well-known name among Touraine winegrowers. On the right bank of the Loire, Jean-Paul Mabileau is proprietor of the Domaine du Bourg, Cuvée Les Graviers, in Saint-Nicolas, which was recently replanted. Among his properties, he respects the individual soil type of vineyard lots and treats them separately. The result is Loire Valley red wines with considerable class and complexity, with each cuvée different and exciting in every vintage.
Jean-Paul Mabileau has been internationally feted for his wines: Domaine du Bourg was rated twice with a Coup de Coeur in Guide Hachette 1999 & 2000, Lys d’Argent Concours des Vins de Loire 2003, Médaille d’or Mâcon 2000, and the Wine Advocate. They are widely exported in Europe and are just now being distributed in the U.S.