In Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc plays second fiddle, adding a touch of spice to Cabernet Sauvignon blends. But in the Loire Valley, it shines on its own in Chinon and Bourgueil. Here's a lovely Chinon from Château de Coulaine, an estate that dates to 1300. Etienne de Bonnaventure farms his Chinon vineyards organically and vinifies his wines simply and naturally using indigenous yeasts. The wine is a rich ruby red, its intense dark berry flavor laced with Chinon's characteristic spice and pepper. The texture is silky, the tannins tamed.
It's wonderful with roast duck, grilled duck breast or sausages, braised stews and coq au vin. I just drank a bottle with turkey pot pie made with the Thanksgiving leftovers. It's also a good choice to serve with a cheese course.
Region: Loire Valley (France)
Price: About $20
What it goes with: Duck, coq au vin, grilled meats, cheese
Where to find it: K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood, (323) 464-9463, http://www.klwines.com; Wally's Wine & Spirits in West Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606, http://www.wallywine.com; Wine Exchange in Orange, (714) 974-1454, http://www.winex.com; and the Wine House in West Los Angeles, (310) 479-3731, http://www.winehouse.com.