Along a river full of vinous oddities, Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny are so off the beaten track that they might as well be mainstream. Like much of the eastern Touraine, the two appellations are a patchwork of clay and sand-dominated parcels, with hints of silica (silex) and chalk peeking through, especially in the heart of the region. Cheverny is largely planted to the same varieties as the rest of Touraine (Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon, and handfuls of Pineau d’Aunis), but its brethren Cour-Cheverny is the last bastion of Romorantin, a late-ripening, poweful grape which used to be more common.
François Cazin has been working diligently on the same land since 1976, well before the two appellations were awarded AOC status in March 1993 (his family have lived and worked there for five generations – the family photograph is from the 1960s). He makes a variety wines in both appellations in the same painstaking fashion: almost no chemical intervention, hand-harvesting, natural yeasts, and a patient elevage before releasing the wines. “It’s how things have been done in my family,” he replies matter-of-factly.
Most of his holdings are in heavier clay soils, with more silex in Cheverny, chalk in Cour-Cheverny. The Cheverny blanc, usually a Sauvignon-dominated blend, gets some interest from a small Chardonnay component, while the Cheverny rouge is a toothsome blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir. We also like the Cheverny rosé, usually a 50/50 blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir. François makes 2 different cuvées of Cour-Cheverny: a dry, intense version, and a Cuvée Renaissance with up to 20 g/l of sugar, tasting more sec-tendre than demi-sec.