I realize that my title is rather unique, but these two themes kind of meshed together at the same time and I would be remiss to mention one and not the other. I must mention that Cabernet Franc Day is a relatively new wine day to celebrate, and not because it is a new wine. It is just the opposite and it has been determined that Cabernet Franc is one of the parents to Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is Cabernet Sauvignon that gets most of the glory and attention, but not everywhere in the world. Lori and Michael of Dracaena Wines in Paso Robles, California were one of the initial flagbearers to get this name day off and running. The closest that I have gotten to them so far, is through correspondence and purchasing some of their stellar wine and having it shipped to My Favorite Daughter’s house in Las Vegas, as not everyone wants to deal with Michigan, even though Granholm vs. Heald supposedly made Michigan a non-felony state for wine shipments, Granholm still seems to lurk in the shadows where she should stay. Cabernet Franc is a wine that I was crazy about, even before I knew that I should be, because some of the greatest wines that I ever enjoyed were made from this grape. I know it sounds silly, but those that started in the Dark Ages enjoying wine, especially French wine bought and drank wine by the region and the grapes took a back seat to the area like St. Emilion and Saumur-Champigny.
Old Woodward Cellar is in Birmingham, one of the charming suburban cities in the Detroit area that are impossible to get to their downtown areas, because they are not directly off a freeway interchange. I first discovered the wine shop, because they discovered me on Instagram, I say they discovered me, because I will not ask anyone to follow me on that site, and I know that sounds crazy, but I am not one to chase numbers. The name Old Woodward refers to this one quirky stretch of a road in Birmingham that is part of the old initial Woodward Avenue that ran straight up from Downtown Detroit, but in Birmingham a new and enhanced road was built fifty or sixty years ago, and hence the short section known as Old Woodward. I have to explain that I don’t go to Birmingham that often, because it is rather awkward to get to, but I had a solemn rite that I had to attend and I thought I would look up the wine shop and avoid driving in rush-hour traffic. I have to admit that even with the GPS on my phone, I thought I had made an error, but I ended up in a large parking lot, that I didn’t even know existed in parking deprived Birmingham and lo and behold as I was going to try and get back on old main drag, there was the store on the corner, and I am sure that it may be easier the next time if I am coming from my side of the world. I took the liberty of using one of their Instagram photos of the building, as I have never claimed to be much of a photographer, so that is one of the few photos that is not mine. Old Woodward Cellar is kept at a cool setting year-round, so when I walk in, I met the owners who were both in quilted nylon zipper jackets to stay warm, as the shop is maintained at a cool cellar setting, which must make it one of the spots to visit in the summer, and in fact they were voted the Suburban Wine Store in Hour Magazine. The shop was laid out in a very easy to understand fashion, and they were not attempting to compete with the big supermarket wine departments that carry the popular “name” brands of wine, the wines were selected to be the best representation of an area or a varietal. There was also a back room that had the wines that even make staid wine bloggers drool over. I think it is a shop that will require more time to schmooze and shop and even do some tasting at.
Now the trick is to tie these two seemingly polar subjects together and that is because I saw a very interesting wine that my Bride would get very excited about. The wine that I saw was Domaine Charles Joguet Chinon Les Charmes 2014 from the Loire Valley. Chinon is basically in the center of the valley and while all three types of wines are produced there, they are known for their Cabernet Franc. In fact, they have been growing that grape for years and locally it is called Breton, after the Abbot that nurtured the grape, and one of the famous sons of Chinon, Rabelais also wrote about the wines when he had a moment of free time. There are nineteen communes in Chinon and Les Charmes is located near the village of Anché and the vines are all about thirty-five-years-old. The juice begins with five days of skin maceration followed by fifteen days of fermentation. Then the juice is aged for seven months in assorted oak barrels and then they are blended into large oak tanks for an additional twelve months. The winery is then suggesting at least another two years in the cellar before opening. Alas with all of the volunteer work, my Bride is off and about, so we will have to officially have a Cabernet Franc another time, but thank you Lori and Michael for your dedication, and a thank you to Old Woodward Cellars for carrying something fun and interesting from Chinon.