In 1631 the infamous eminence gris Cardinal Richelieu - Count of Chinon (amongst other roles) and forward-thinking whatever his reputation - sent his steward Abbé Breton to Bordeaux. The good Abbé's task was to research grape varieties in the hope of finding something that might be well-suited to the chalky terroir of Touraine. He did a pretty good job coming back with the marvellous Cabernet Franc that fulfilled the brief to perfection. You could make a case for it still being under-appreciated 392 years after the event but that is no fault of the Abbot.
12 kilometres east of Chinon on the north bank of the Vienne tributary, Émilien Désbourdes is a forward-thinking, low-intervention vigneron who cultivates his vines organically in the hamlet of Panzoult. He makes supple, forward-drinking wines that are enjoyable from release on their youthful fruit. Redolent of summer berries and cherries, his 'L'Arpenty' bottling is a staple of this list and is best served lightly chilled with pâté or charcuterie.
To the west of Chinon in Savigny-en-Véron, Rudolphe Raffault presides over 50 hectares of vines grown in 7 different communes. He is fortunate in that he owns a parcel of Chenin Blanc which accounts for just 2% of the appellation's output. It has a pale straw colour, uplifting citrus scents and a zesty palate of white stone-fruit offset by fresh acidity. A rosé stablemate is made from pure Cabernet Franc and has a coral-pink robe, ripe red berry aromas and flavours preceding an elegant, dry finish. Completing his range is a red 'Le Puy' bottling grown on volcanic soils of the Pays du Chinonnais. With a dark berry bouquet and a core of soft summer fruit supported by fine-grained tannins, it merits decanting and will cellar well for up to a decade.