Friday, January 17, 2020

Learn about Wines from the Bourgueil AOC While Eating Pork Tongue Head Cheese + Napa Cabbage Salad #Winophiles #LoireLovers

As the first #Winophiles post for 2020, Jeff from Food Wine Click has invited the blogger friends to share a round of advice on French wines for newcomers. I recently attended the Loire Valley Wines tasting party to celebrate the holidays in New York City and learned about the different appellations of this region. Let’s zero in more and talk about Bourgueil AOC, an appellation in the central Loire Valley region, which produces primarily red wines from the grape variety, Cabernet Franc.
Photo Credit: The Society of Wine Educators
Bourgueil is the appellation for reds from the commune of the same name and is one of the seven communes of the Indre-et-Loire department in the umbrella Touraine AOC in the central Loire Valley. In the context of wines, an appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication (PGI) used to identify where the grapes were grown for wines. 
Photo Credit: Wine Folly
The French appellation, namely appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), imposes regulations to ensure wines must feature a certain percentage of indigenous grapes, growing conditions, and minimum quality. Generally speaking, the more specific the region, the higher the rank of the region attains. In the case of Bourgueil AOC wines, they need to be at a minimum of 90 percent Cabernet Franc (up to 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon is permitted) under the appellation law.

A display of the Loire Valley Wines Map at the Sezane Holiday Party
The Loire Valley, as the third-largest AOC region in France, is home to 51 top AOC regions and four PGI regions. Each of the AOC or PGI has its distinct identity and its signature grape varieties and styles of wines. The main red varieties are Cab Franc, Gamay, Grolleau, Pinot Noir, Pineau d’Aunis, Côt, and Cab Sauvignon. The main white varieties are Melon de Bourgogne, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay. 
Diverse Loire Valley wines
Unlike many other French wine regions, most of the Loire Valley wines are made as single varietal wines instead of blends. The US was Loire Valley’s number one export market both in value and volume, followed by the UK and Germany.
Photo Credit:
Bourgueil AOC has been the birthplace of Cab Franc, but ‘Cab Franc', the grape variety never appears on the wine label. That’s the French way! 
The grape variety is never written on a French wine label. Just the French way!
Bourgueil reds are a true reflection of the soils in which the grapes are grown. The area around Bourgueil is blessed with two key soil types - the gravelly alluvial and easy-draining soil that is close to the banks of the Loire and the rich soil in the local 'tuffeau', which is yellowish, fragile, sedimentary rock type. The gravel soil produces lighter, fruit-forwarded styles of Cab Franc with aromas of red berries and licorice, while the rich soil produces richer, spicier wines with 'animal' aromas such as barnyard, leather, and fur. 
Pork tongue head cheese deli slices atop red radish and Napa cabbage salad
Clarisse and Joël Taluau, the wife and husband duo, are the sixth generation who have tended the terroir at Domaine Joël Taluau – Thierry Foltzenlogel. This estate, which is in the village of Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil and is right next door to the proper Bourgeuill appellation, produces wines in a vineyard that practices simple and natural farming.  
black radish julienne 
The 2014 Bourgeuil has a bit the smell of pencil shavings on the nose. Overall, it is round on the palate, soft, fresh, pleasantly crisp, red-fruit forwarded, and has a hint of cedar and graphite – a classic, good Cab Franc by all means! To pair with this Cab Franc, I have tossed two simple Napa cabbage salads, one with red radish and one with julienne Spanish black radish in rice vinegar and ginger dressing, atop with pork tongue head cheese, drizzled with some reduced sweet soya sauce and sesame oil. The Spanish radish is much bigger than the red radish and has a very strong spicy taste. 
What is head cheese? Head cheese is a cold cut that is originated in Europe. Head cheese has no cheese in it at all but is a terrine that’s often made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig. I got two kinds of pork tongue head cheese deli slices, one with blood and one without from a Polish Deli. The texture of the tongue is crunchy and the taste is very mild. The vinaigrette from the salad and the soya sauce dressing really calm the tinny bit wild pork taste of the tongue and make the salad very clean and fresh. The clean palate of this Bourgeuil is a great complement to the salad while the minerality of the wine tackles the pork tongue spot-on.
Pork tongue head cheese with blood deli slices atop black radish and Napa cabbage salad
For more French wine advice, check out the other bloggers’ posts below:


  1. I hadn't heard of Bourgueil prior to your post. I do love Cab Franc. I'm going to have to be on the lookout for wine from this area.

    1. I love Cab Franc too. Apparently, from my research, Bourgueil is the birthplace for Cab Franc.

  2. I love the wider variety of meats and charcuterie available in France. I wish we had a bit more access to head cheese, blood sausage, etc.... here in the states. Lucky you to find some!

    1. I know. When I was in Paris 6 years ago, that's pretty much all I ate was the charcuterie, terrine. My town has a lot of Russians and a few Russian/Polish grocery stores.

  3. Thanks for the lesson on the Bourgueil AOC, I learned a few things!

    1. Thanks. I learned a lot from your post this week too. The themes of this month are all very information and lay the foundation for our "wine research" for the months to come.