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Bourgueil


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Bourgueil is one of the three great red wine appellations of the Touraine region of the Loire Valley. The other two are St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Chinon. Chinon's inexpensive, easily drinkable, but ageworthy and complex wines are probably the most critically acclaimed here. But many drinkers prefer Bourgueils for their unctuous thickness, deep, complex flavors, and distinctive dark berry fruit notes.

The Bourgueil AOC is named for the Indre-et-Loire village in which most of the wine is produced. At around 13 square miles, Bourgueil is quite large and has many vineyards. The five other designated villages for production, Benais, Chouzé-sur-Loire, La Chapelle-sur-Loire, Restigné, and St-Patrice bring the total land under vine up to nearly 3,000 acres. About 750,000 cases of Bourgueil are produced each year, translating to about 9 million bottles. Of those, only several hundred thousand are rosé. The great majority of Bourgueil wines are reds.

History

Like many of the old Touraine appellations, Bourgueil has a long history. It received its AOC status in 1937, along with the first appellations of the Loire. No major modifications have been made since.

Climate and Viticulture

Bourgueil's vineyards are situated on the river, which has a major influence on the style of the wines. It has been noted that vineyards closer to the water yield more mild wines, with Cabernet Franc's usual red fruit flavors. Grapes further away turn into wines with more intense, dark flavors of currant and black cherry.

The reason is that closer to the water, the soils are softer and more sandy, which makes for soft, fruit-forward wines. On the hills above the riverbanks, the soils are limestone, and make for much more pungent, powerful wines.

Grape Varieties

Major Producers

Though this region's wines are considered very reliable, we can nonetheless recommend half a dozen producers who make especially good cuvées.

Subregions

St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil is like a sister appellation to Bourgueil; it is neither a satellite nor a subregion, as falsely presumed. Bourgueil actually has no officially designated subregions of its own.