Cheverny is a large, rather underrated appellation for red and white wine in Touraine. Very little red wine is made; nowadays, almost all the wines are white blends. Mostly international grapes are used in the basic appellation, but under the subregion of Cour-Cheverny the most distinctive wines of the region are made from local grape Romorantin. Though an acquired taste, they are the most important wines of Cheverny due to the fact that this style cannot be found anywhere else.
Cheverny AOC stretches over 24 Touraine villages. About half of them are used for Cour-Cheverny; not surprisingly, the Cour-Cheverny village itself is the center of said plantings. There are only about 1,500 acres of total plantings, which is low considering the number of villages the appellation encompasses.
Cheverny was first recognized as a VDQS in the 1970s. Only in 1993 were Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny granted AOC status.
Climate and Viticulture
The climate is similar to those of many of the surrounding appellations, but since the region lies significantly to the northeast of the rest of the Touraine appellations, there are some subtle differences. In general, the cooler the climate, the more bitter the wine, and as a result of the slightly cooler climate Cheverny's wines are much more bitter than those of the rest of Touraine. Differences in soil are minor.
- Romorantin: This grape was popular several hundred years ago, but now is used almost exclusively in this appellation. As a result, the Cour-Chevernys that it makes don't taste quite like any other wine in the world. They are mainly known for being dry, bitter, and brutally acidic, but these wines are often surprisingly fruity, showing flavors of exotic melon, smoke, sweet chocolate, pear, and honeyed fruit in addition to the prominent mineral spine. While not too ageable, they are impressively full and weighty when young.
- Sauvignon Blanc: According to current regulations, Sauvignon Blanc must make up 60-80% of Cheverny AOC white wines. Arbois, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc are also used, but usually in low proportions. The Sauvignon makes for snappy wines, full of orange zest and citrus fruit flavors, with a solid mineral backbone and floral nuances.
- Gamay: Gamay is the main red grape here; it must make up 40-65% of the red wines. Pinot Noir is also permitted, while Cabernet Franc and Malbec can make up a total of 15% of the wine. These reds, called Cheverny Rouge, are not seen very often, but can occasionally be quite good.
Here are six good producers for both the Cheverny and the Cour-Cheverny appellations.
- Francois Cazin: Cheverny Le Petit Chambord is an impressively taut, stony Sauvignon, but the Cour-Cheverny wines are by far the best here. Both the manual-harvested Vendanges Manuelles and the more complex Cuvée Renaissance combine richness and acidity in a world-class fashion. These are probably the two best Cour-Chevernys, but they have a significant price premium as well.
- Clos du Tue-Boeuf: This producer makes many Cheverny cuvées but no Cour-Chevernys. The best of the whites is the exotic, citrussy Frileuse and the best of the reds is the lively, light-bodied La Gravotte.
- Domaine des Huards: The Cheverny Blanc here is pure and intense, with light but powerful notes typical of Sauvignon. Cheverny Rouge Le Pressoir is wild, spicy, and intriguing. The smoky, full-bodied, ultra-powerful Cour-Cheverny is the most unusual wine made here.
- Domaine Henri Marionnet: Marionnet's claim to fame is that they own one of the only vineyards in France not to have been infected by phylloxera during the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century. The vineyard, located in Cour-Cheverny, has vines over 150 years old. The wines give an impression of Romorantin that truly cannot be found anywhere else, but availability is very limited.
- Domaine du Moulin: The dry but flavored Blanc is good here, as is the spicy, fresh, Beaujolais-like Rouge, but the Cour-Cheverny is the top of the line offering. Called Les Petits Acacias, it has bitter, heavy aromas of citrus, honey, and flowers.
- Domaine du Salvard: Salvard's simple, straightforward Cheverny Blanc is one of the best of the region and costs under $15.
Cheverny has one subregion: Cour-Cheverny AOC, which was formed along with the Cheverny appellation. This appellation allows only varietal wines from local grape Romorantin. Dry, uncompromising, and idiosyncratically flavored, they have an impressively high pedigree and remain underappreciated in most of the world.