Bourgueil – La cuvée du Bonn’Heure

DSC_0024bNow, this could be tricky. Telling you about this bad boy is actually too simple:

It’s a thirst wine. There…that’s all you need to know.

I could tell you it comes from a great appellation called Bourgueil in the Loire Valley and it’s made of Cabernet Franc. I could tell you that it’s light and fresh with red fruits and soft herbaceous tannins. I could dig deeper and tell you even more subjective facts about the nose and the palate etc… but I’m not gonna. You’re thirsty and you feel like red wine? Have some Bonn’Heure (bonheur is French for happiness).

Don’t waste time thinking too much about it. Just pour yourself another glass instead. The bottle is empty? Switch off the TV, pop another one open and invite your neighbour. Cut some bread, get the rillettes out the fridge and discuss the world at length. Have a go at Google and their devious tax affairs or speculate about Mr Moyes bringing the reds to European glory. Although don’t worry. If you’re downing it in the dark, on your own, in front of Geordie Shore it’ll taste just as good…I just wouldn’t call that bonheur.

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Cuvée Bonn’Heure is made by Stephanie, Emmanuel & Pierre Caslot at Domaine de la Chevalerie in the little village of Restigné next to Bourgueil. Stephanie and Emmanuel are Pierre’s daughter and son. I met Stephanie at the Real Wine Fair in London where I discovered their wines and I can tell you these guys are anything but conventional. To say that Stephanie is full of energy is an understatement. The Caslot believe in, and respect their vines and their land and belong to a quirky bunch of winemakers who work biodynamically. This is too complex a topic to elaborate on here but in a nutshell it’s about maintaining the vineyard’s ecosystems equilibrium by applying homeopathic treatments and remedies in accordance with astrological cycles. Yep, I know…bonkers. But trust me, the juice coming out of these grapes speaks for itself. And whatever you make of it, if the land is happy, if the vines are happy, and if the vigneron is happy…I’ll happily drink his wine.

This particular cuvée comes from a gravelly parcel with a sandy sub-soil therefore providing good and measured natural drainage. Let’s remember the Loire has a cool climate and in Bourgueil, the ocean is not too far so there’s no lack of humidity. The vines are relatively mature at about 30/35 years old providing for good flavour ripeness but not too much concentration. The 2011 vintage provided very interesting conditions: early spring, fair, a measured summer in terms of sunlight but relatively dry throughout until harvest end of September. This dryness means healthy grapes at harvest time. All these you get in the wine: freshness, softness, subtle aromas and juicy strawberries and red cherries, all tightly kept together by a backbone of fine tannins and acidity. A wine full of life.

The label deserves a mention: it was designed by Jean Jack Martin, not only a watercolourist and writer but a specialist of culinary wonders from the Touraine region. Jean Jack designs a new label each year for this  particular cuvée which gets a new name every year. I find it refreshing to look at a wine label that is well drawn, inventive and inspired. It definitely makes me want to know what the other cuvées look like and taste like.

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Cuvée Bonn’Heure retails for around £9 + VAT in specialist suppliers. I bought it from Les Caves de Pyrene after the fair through Origin Wines who are based in the North West – Find this wine on wine-searcher.com

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