The 2009 Les Villaises Saumur Champigny, a pure cabernet franc from France's Loire Valley, is a perfect summertime red. Expect to find this light and vivacious wine for about $13 at big box stores.
This is not a big wine, but it is beautifully balanced and redolent of the vineyard. Popping the cork releases a brash shout of ripe cherry with just a hint of caramel and earth for balance.
The same trio is prominent on the tongue, where it is joined through mid-palate by blackberry, a smidge of dark chocolate and subtle spice. The finish, asserted by a bit of black pepper, is long, smooth and bright, truly refreshing and palate cleansing. There is nothing even vaguely heavy or pretentious about this lively red. If you're of a mind to, you might even give it a brief chilling before serving, as you would a Beaujolais.
This cab franc would be a perfect burger wine, but it would also go nicely with a rambunctious shrimp po' boy, a buttery lobster roll or grilled tuna under a ginger and soy glaze.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.