Biodynamic Bourgueil from Laurent Herlin Classes-Up a Weeknight Dinner (#WinePW)

Brimming with energy and personality, this biodynamic Cab Franc is a winner with dinner!

In our final Wine Pairing Weekend event of 2020, Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm leads us on an exploration of Cabernet Franc around the World. It’s an exciting topic for me, as I really love this grape variety: whether part of a blend, as in Bordeaux, or the star of the show (Loire Valley; Washington, New York, and Virginia in the US; Mendoza and more) Cabernet Franc makes some pretty tasty wines!

Wendy describes the appeal of Cab Franc around the world in her invitation post; you’re sure to find some inspiration for your next shopping trip.

And, if you’re keen to learn more, please join the #WinePW group Saturday, December 12th at 11 am ET for a Twitter chat on the subject. Here’s a preview of what we’ll be talking about, in case you’re on the fence:

My Cab Franc adventure came at the nexxus of two seemingly far-flung places – Bourgueil AOC in the Loire Valley of France, and downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The scene was the recently-opened Small Wine Bar, a down-to-earth, cool-vibe kind of place, devoted to natural wines from all over the world. It’s where I met a gorgeously tempting, biodynamic French Cabernet Franc whose name loosely translates to “Boom Boom!”

Tim and Tracy’s Excellent Adventure – Great Wine without the Fussiness

Two weeks ago, Gabe and I went to pick up our Christmas tree and ornaments, which were in storage near our old apartment, about 40 minutes north of where we live now. While we weren’t psyched about a Saturday road trip, we welcomed the opportunity to stop by the new wine shop I’d been following on Instagram since before they opened.

Small Wine Shop founders, Tracy Pell and Tim Graham

Husband and wife team Tim Graham and Tracy Pell envisioned a small wine shop devoted to natural wines, one that was part of a community of artists, entrepreneurs, families, and friends. When they found space in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Village, they knew it was the right fit. Tim, a DipWSET candidate, brought his 20+ years of retail wine experience to the table; Tracy, her long career in marketing and visual design.

Come in for a taste or share a bottle; stay for Queen’s Gambit Game night!

The result is a neighborhood hang-out that will thrill wine lovers of all stripes. Whether you’re just discovering the joys of wine or you’re a seasoned professional, you’ll have a great time here. And don’t be afraid to let Tim guide you through the inventory: we had him select six bottles for us, the first of which was the Tsoin Tsoin. Can’t wait to try the rest!

Our custom six-pack of natural wines – thanks Tim!

Discover more about the Small Wine Shop here.

Laurent Herlin and a few of his Demeter-certified wines (winery photo)

2018 Laurent Herlin Tsoin Tsoin Bourgueil (12.5% abv; $33 retail)

The Small Wine Shop website describes the vibe of this wine as “sitting in a Parisian café, wearing a scarf and sunnies.” I’d say that captures the essence of this wine perfectly.

Born of 25-year-old vines that are farmed biodynamically (Demeter-certified), grapes for the Tsoin Tsoin undergo carbonic maceration/whole cluster fermentation, a method that retains primary fruit aromas and flavors. And that’s what shows up in the glass: lovely notes of black raspberry, cherry and violet; crisp acidity, moderate tannins. It’s a wine that goes down easy, but which also pairs well with light food.

My first thought was to pair it with a platter of charcuterie, cheese, and olives. But I had none of those things! What I did have was a package of chicken thighs that needed to be cooked. I sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and a little Herbes de Provence and let them sit while the cast iron skillet heated in the oven.

Simple dinner made splendid with Tsoin Tsoin (Boom! Boom!) Cabernet Franc

I cooked the chicken for 22 minutes on each side, letting the skin get nice and crunchy. As a side dish Gabe tossed fresh arugula with lemon juice and blood-orange olive oil. A simple meal, but one made so much better by the lively, energetic personality of the Tsoin Tsoin Cab Franc!

The Story of Laurent Herlin, Winemaker

Herlin, whose professional life was rooted in computer technology, always had strong convictions about ecology and the preservation of the planet. He also longed to make wine. After studying in Beaune, and completing several winemaking internships, Herlin bought a single hectare of Cabernet Franc in France’s Bourgueil appellation in the Loire Valley.

Don’t you just want to hang out with this guy? And drink his wine? (winery photo)

That initial investment now includes a total of six hectares, including the four-hectare Clos de la Gaucherie. Soils are sandy topped with gravel, with pockets of clay and limestone. The vineyards are certified organic and biodynamic.

Herlin’s wines have been featured at RAW Wine, the annual expo of natural wines organized by Isabelle Legeron, MW.

Working with his wife, Valerie, Laurent has recently opened a “gite écologique” on the property, which is available for rent. Sounds like a fun weekend, doesn’t it?

Cheers to Cabernet Franc around the World!

I hope this story has encouraged you to add more Cabernet Franc-based wines to your collection. If you’re already a big fan, you might be interested in participating in #CabFrancDay, which takes place December 4th. Here’s a link to my post from the 2020 festivities; and here’s a link to the event page, thanks to Lori from Dracaena Wines, who created it. And, if you’re ever in Fort Lauderdale, stop in to see Tim and Tracy at the Small Wine Shop. It’ll make your day!



  1. We have a local online natural wine shop that carries this wine! Must be nice to walk-in to a shop and find it. It sounds like a wine I would really enjoy. You know I dig me some Cab Franc. Your pairing looks and sounds wonderful. Thanks for the sheet pan meal inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great story behind the wine. I always think a good story makes the wine taste better but it sounds like yours didn’t need any help in that department!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I want to hang out with that guy! I love that he finally just bought a single hectare and started making wine!
    Your simple dish sounds perfect! I hope you tossed on a scarf and your “sunnies” to enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This looks like such a fun wine and right up my alley. Also, I will have to check out this store when the world opens up again and I can go visit my family again. From, your description and the wines featured, it reminds me a lot of the store I used work at.

    Liked by 1 person

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