19 September 2010

Sauvignon rose grapes?

There's Cabernet Franc, the grape of Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny wines, all produced in the Loire Valley between Tours and Angers. Here in eastern Touraine, in the Cher River Valley, a lot of Cabernet Franc is grown and made into varietal or blended wines too. From what I've read, Cabernet Franc is the grape that is closest in character to the wild ancestor of all the Cabernets. It's used as a blending grape in Bordeaux.

Red wine grapes at La Renaudière, outside Saint-Aignan

Then there's Cabernet Sauvignon. Along with Merlot, it's the most important red wine grape in the Bordeaux region. Cabernet Sauvignon is a hybrid that was "discovered" in the 17th century in southwestern France. Somehow — randomly, it seems — Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes had cross-pollinated (I think), producing the new varietal. Cabernet Sauvignon is now grown worldwide and is the most prominent red wine grape of, for example, the Napa Valley in California.

The Renaudière vineyard in mid-September

Sauvignon Blanc is also a Cabernet grape. It's the quintessential white wine grape of the Loire Valley, from Sancerre west to Tours (the Touraine whites, but also Quincy, Reuilly, and Pouilly whites). It's also a much-used white wine grape in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and California. It makes steely, grassy white wines.

Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay grapes
are grown at La Renaudière. One day I'll learn to tell the
grapes, and not just the wines, apart.

Finally, there's a Sauvignon variety that 80-something Jacques Denis, who has tended the vines at la Renaudière outside Saint-Aignan his whole life, and who probably helped plant many of them, told me, a couple of months ago, that he calls Sauvignon Rose. That's rose without an accent, not rosé — one syllable, not two. Rose means pink in French. I searched for Sauvignon Rose on the internet for a while, but found nothing.

Sauvignon Rose? Or Sauvignon Gris...

There are several rows of the so-called Sauvignon Rose grapes right out behind our back gate. Just this morning, I found something that leads me to believe Sauvignon Rose might be another name for a variety otherwise known as Cabernet Gris — "Gray" Cabernet. Vin gris is a name given to very pale vin rosé. It seems that Cabernet Gris is especially well adapted for the production of sweet wines — vins moelleux ("tender" or "mellow") or or even liquoreux (the sweetest, with more than 50 grams of residual sugar per liter).

White wine grapes at La Renaudière

By the way, Jacques Denis is out hunting this morning. Walt talked to him, and Callie went up and kissed him. She especially loves Jacques, for some reason. Whenever she sees him in the vineyard, she runs to greet him. With other people who work the vineyard, Callie is much more standoffish. Jacques told Walt that he and the other local hunters are after foxes this morning.


  1. It's sweet that Callie has picked Jacques for her special friend. I bet he's a good fellow.

  2. I remember drinking "petit gris de Toul" in Bar-le-Duc Many years ago. As you said it was a very pale rosé wine, but very good.

    I do hope the fox or foxes, if any, outfox those nasty hunters trying to get them.

  3. Beautiful rose grapes.

    Are the foxes hunted just for the sake of hunting? If so, what a shame.


  4. I like that first picture of the red grapes - they look dusty, velvety and rich.

    I, too, am rooting for the foxes.

  5. Great article Ken... lots of information as usual.
    But... were you thinking too much about wine? Quote "From what I've red, Cabernet Franc is the grape..."

  6. Thanks Tim. Yes, thinking too much about wine. I fixed the typo.

    As for the foxes, they are supposedly a nuisance around here, where people keep chickens, guinea fowl, geese, etc. We haven't actually seen any foxes recently, but we've seen them in the past. The hunters apparently killed three or four foxes in the organized hunt this morning.

  7. Hi Ken! I'm letting the world know you are my cheese muse


    I'll letcha know how it turns out.

    ps Great work by the hunters. We lost several birds, including my favorite duck Molly, this summer to a mangy vixen. She may have been rabid.

  8. Hi Ken, I discovered your blog whilst looking for a comparative recipe for Galettes Bretonne, and yours came up.
    To tell the grape varietals apart:
    Chenin blanc has a distinctly woolier underside to its' leaf than Sauv B or Chard. Chard has a less-indented leaf than sauv blanc: it's almost oval.
    Lastly, Sauvignon Rose is a mutation of an almost-extinct varietal called Lie (or Liet) that is rarely seen in your neck of the woods...


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