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Les Pensées de Pallus Cabernet Franc

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Les Pensées de Pallus Cabernet Franc: a Review

Wine is as good as life to a man, if it be drunk moderately: what life is then to a man that is without wine? for it was made to make men glad.
    —Ecclesiasticus, ch. 38, v. 1

(Our sample bottle was purchased by us at standard retail.)

About Les Pensées de Pallus Cabernet Franc

Les Pensées de Pallus is a Chinon, a type of French wine from the Loire Valley that is at least 90% Cabernet Franc, and often (as in this case) 100%. The Winery is Domaine de Pallus, and the winemaker is a rising star, Bertrand Sourdais. The wine retails for anywhere from about $17 up to $26, averaging about $22, and seems reasonably available at retailers across the country. That is a modest price for a Loire Cab Franc.

Les Pensées de Pallus Cabernet Franc: Tasting Impressions

As it happens, we have had several bottles of Chinons lately, and they have uniformly been at least quite good. While Cabernet Franc is usually thought of as a Bordeaux type, used in "Bordeaux" blends, in the Loire Valley it is something a little less like the Bordeaux style, tending to more aggressively display austerity and strength.

In general, Old World treatments of Cab Franc—and, indeed, of most red wines—tend to differ markedly from New World treatments (that is, of course, a sweeping generality with exceptions enough). New World Cab Francs tend very much toward an emphasis on the fruit, often verging on or becoming the infamous "fruit bomb" style. ("Fruit bomb" is a denigratory term for a red wine that so markedly emphasizes lush, jammy fruit qualities as to lose structure and balance; while its application in many cases is subjective, and in any event the occasional fruit-bomb wine has its uses, it is rarely a good exhibition of the qualities of any decent red-wine grape.) Old World Cab Francs (and, as noted, reds in general) tend much more to qualities other than sheer fruit, tending thereby to be rather more "austere" than New World reds.

The Pensées de Pallus well displays the characteristic Cab Franc quality often described as "herbaceous". That term can be vague or misleading; one must not think of the fragrant herbs of the south of Europe, but rather of the strong, woodsy herbs of middle and northern Europe, such as those of the song: "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme". Mind, it isn't that the wine actually tastes of such herbs: rather, the taste (and nose) combine to make one think of the vegetative quality of plantings of such herbs. Another applicable term here is "earthy", the sensory association with freshly tilled soil.

Les Pensées de Pallus is a fairly austere wine. It is not the most austere Chinon we have encountered, but the fruit, such as it is, is dark fruit—plums, black currants, that sort of thing—and is subdued. Overlaying that, besides that definite herbaceousness, is a collection of qualities for which we must needs fall back on some of the clichés of wine tasting: old leather, cedar, even the classic "pencil shavings". It has tannins, too, but they are well-integrated. This is a complex wine that rewards attention paid to it.

Les Pensées de Pallus is a very good wine in our book. Stacked against some other quite pleasing Chinons of our recent experience, we'd say that differences are minor stylistic ones, and that in choosing a personally preferred Chinon it is going to be a matter much more of personal idiosyncratic preferences rather than any nontrivial differentiation by "quality". A good Chinon is—in our opinion anyway—a key part of any wine-drinker's arsenal, something to have with regularity. And Les Pensées de Pallus is a Chinon very likely to please, and is by way of being a fair possibility for anyone's "house Chinon". Recommended.

Les Pensées de Pallus Cabernet Franc: Other Opinions

On CellarTracker.

On Wine Searcher's Tasting Notes page.

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