2014 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses
Olga Raffault Chinon is the very definition of finesse, yet there is plenty chutzpah to stand up to everything the typical American dinner can throw at it. It will also appeal to the most hardcore of Cabernet lovers. The late Olga Raffault secured for herself over her long winemaking career a particularly rarified place in the wine world. Old School sommeliers have always dug her wines for their propensity to gracefully age and their long history in the Loire Valley. They swap tales of storied vintages from the sixties and seventies they served and how marvelous they were. New School somms love Raffault’s Chinons for their high geekiness factor, unparalleled elegance and friendliness to all kinds of different modern cuisines. Next to Vouvray, there’s no hipper part of the Loire than Chinon these days. Cab Franc is definitely ‘in.’ What makes a Raffault Chinon so special? Well, it’s a confluence of factors really.
The ‘les Picasses’ vineyard stands out from the rest in the appellation: the vines are over 50 years old and sit on a steep slope that runs up from the Loire riverbank. The vineyard is on alluvial clay with a chalk limestone base creating Cabernet Franc that is uniquely expressive of dark fruits, red currants and black cherries with pronounced mineral and the kind of crystalline acidity that creates a structure which allows the wine to age effortlessly despite a lack of big tannin. Made very traditionally, aged in old wood for two years and aged in the bottle for two more, the wine from ‘les Picasses’ often has a light garnet color that belies its depth of fruit flavor and remarkable complexity. Its style is rustic and quite earthy, with hints of orange zest and a deep, dark cherry flavor. The tannins are soft, but omnipresent, and the mineral complexity and hint of black pepper in the finish is a hallmark.