Any trace of terroir - flavor that reflects an origin of place - is invisible in many current wines, whose big fruit and commercial-friendly consistency is closer to Juicy Juice than something created by the vagaries of climate, the wisdom of tradition, and a winemaker's knowing hand. But that is definitely not the case for a cabernet franc from the Loire like this 2009 Touraine Réserve from Château du Petit Thouars. You'll get a rich whiff of earth and bell peppers on first sniff. With a sip comes a mouthwatering brace of red raspberry, soft tannins, cocoa, and a final ping of sweet fig. The extra ripeness comes from new winemaker Michel Pinard's patient late harvest and a nearly 50 percent reduction in yield from this ancient chateau (circa 1634), soon to be classified as a Chinon (just seven miles away.) Expect prices to rise when that happens, so snap up some cellar-worthy bottles of vivid Loire terroir for less than $20 now.
- Craig LaBan
Château du Petit Thouars Cépage Cabernet Franc Touraine Réserve 2009, $18.99 (code 31482) in Pennsylvania.