Well, a few people have heard of it. Francois Cazin might head the list. He's the Frenchman behind the best Cour-Cheverny I've tasted. Add Joe Dressner and Denyse Louis, the pair behind Louis/Dressner Selections, which imports Cazin's "Le Petit Chambord" wines to the US. I had previously tasted Cazin's regular Cheverny, apparently made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. It can be a crisp, delicious white wine. But the subject here is Cazin's Cour-Cheverny, made exclusively from the obscure Romorantin grape found in this part of the Touraine.
I first came upon the 1999 Le Petit Chambord "Cour-Cheverny" Vendanges Manuelles two years ago. The 1999 vintage in the Loire valley has essentially been panned by even some of the most dedicated lovers of Loire whites. But this wine shows once more how limiting vintage generalizations can be. Yes, the conditions for winemaking were challenging. But this wine exemplifies how every vintage produces worthy wine. On release this Cour-Cheverny seemed like a mix of Chenin Blanc, with a nice lemon, honey, and straw aroma and flavor, and Riesling, with a hint of petrol on the aroma. After some bottle age, the wine now shows even more petrolly, oily character of a top Riesling, with a more intense honeyed note than before. This is Romorantin. Fragrant wine that shows a variety of scents over time, light bodied but full flavored with a persistent, crisp finish that refreshes the palate. My only quibble is a sense of dilution in the wine, though it makes me think of beautiful music that could be better still if it were a touch louder. The cost for this wine in 2003 was just $10. Now, with the US dollar down sharply against the Euro, you might expect to pay a bit more for a current vintage. But what a splendid wine, well worth looking for and certainly still a huge bargain in handmade, off the beaten path wine.