Château de Villeneuve, Saumur-Champigny (Loire Valley, France) Cabernet Franc 2020

($20):  The Loire Valley’s Saumur-Champigny appellation is a treasure trove for mid-weight Cabernet Franc-based red wines.  Cabernet Franc, a grape that doesn’t tolerate drought well, is perfectly suited to the sponge-like water retaining capacity of the tuffeau stone (local name for chalk, which is omnipresent in this appellation that surrounds the picturesque town of Saumur) and explains why that grape accounts for well over 90 percent of the plantings in the appellation.  Château de Villeneuve makes several wines from Saumur-Champigny.  This release, their “entry-level” one, comes from a blend of parcels around the château that have been aged in both stainless-steel tanks, to preserve fruitiness, and oak barrels to add texture and complexity.  With great aromatics, it is delightfully fresh and fruity with sufficient balancing spiciness to add complexity.  The suave texture and supple tannins make it ideal for current consumption with everything from roast chicken in a mushroom sauce to burgers from the grill.
90 Michael Apstein May 3, 2022