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Although primarly known for their superb Chinon Rouge "Les Picasses," we are big fans of the Domaine Olga Raffault Chinon Rosé which has gotten better and better over the past few years - perhaps it's their move towards organic farming and the fine work of Sylvie Raffault, her husband Eric de la Vigerie and their son Arnaud. 100% Cabernet Franc, 10-hour maceration and slow wild-yeast fermentation. The Raffaults say that the 2020 is "a sunny Rosé vintage, deep and aromatic, with fine acidity, sparkling with freshness" - quite similar to the lovely 2019 - round and ripe and simply delicious, quite crisp and refreshing showing lovely bright pink color, hints of raspberry and strawberry fruit, ripe but dry and balanced on the palate with a bit of peach and red berries in the finish with bright saline acidity. "Particulièrement gouleyant" it says on the label and we couldn't agree more! Case quanities are available, 10% discount, of course.
Speaking of "Les Picasses," I was lucky enough to taste with Olga Raffault and winemaker Ernest Zeinninger back in 1990 - it was my first encounter with "Les Picasses" and Ernest kept going back into the basement for older bottles, all of which were complex and fascinating, even those from not so great vintages. 2014, in our opinion, is a great vintage for Loire reds - less dense and ripe than 1989, 1990, 2018 and 2019, but possessing bright distinctive fruit, perfect acidity and great expression of terroir. Grab some 2014 "Les Picasses" before it becomes a "library release" or disappears entirely...
2015 is another story - a very successful vintage for Loire reds, which generally showed deep lush fruit, firm acidity and moderate alcohol - a relatively full-bodied vintage with a bit more ripeness and sap, and a bit less acidity, than the 2014. Perhaps lacking a bit of the earthy funk we love about "Les Picasses" but making up for it with deep, sapid, complex fruit. Lovely to drink as a young wine, but certainly capable of long-term aging. I think the first vintage we brought in was 1988 (with importer Alain Junguenet for Garnet Wines) - it was a tough sell, but happily it was followed by 1989 and 1990, which have certainly been capable of aging!
2004 was relatively successful in Muscadet, but conditions were generally cool and wet in the rest of the Loire, saved slightly by some sunny weather in September. Certainly not a great vintage in Chinon, but any older vintage of "Les Picasses" is worth a try! (Wines arrive Tuesday 5/11)
The Olga Raffault Chinon rosé has gotten better and better over the past few years, perhaps it's their move towards organic farming and the fine work of Sylvie Raffault and her husband Eric de la Vigerie. 100% Cabernet Franc, 10-hour maceration and slow wild-yeast fermentation. 2020 is "a sunny Rosé vintage, deep and aromatic, with fine acidity, sparkling with freshness." The wine is round and ripe and simply delicious, quite crisp and refreshing showing lovely bright pink color, hints of raspberry and strawberry fruit, ripe but dry and balanced on the palate with a bit of peach and red berries in the finish with bright saline acidity. "Particulièrement gouleyant" it says on the label and we couldn't agree more!
Les Picasses is one of the greatest vineyards in Chinon - a south-facing slope of clay over porous limestone that retains water and nutrients, nourishing the vines. While the wine is amply fruited and enjoyable young, it has firm acidity and structure for long-term aging, up to 30 years and more depending on the vintage. 2014 was an excellent vintage for Loire reds, which generally showed vibrant fruit, fresh acidity and moderate alcohol. Not a "big" vintage but one of very pretty, well-balanced wines. The 2014 Raffault Picasses shows a bright, red/black color with aromas of morello cherry, red currant, blackberry and prune with hints of licorice, earth and black pepper. The palate shows silky tannins and sappy red and black fruits with chalky minerals and firm acidity, with a bit of the gamey, musky aspect of old-school Chinon. Earthy prune, plum and cherry fruits linger in the long finish. Please decant two to three hours in advance if drinking now, then serve a bit cool with roast chicken, pork or lamb. This will sing a different song after 6 to 8 years of aging, best perhaps 2026 - 2040. DL
2004 was a wet, cool year in most of the Loire Valley, with the most successful wines coming from Muscadet (such as Jo Landron's superb "Fief du Breil.") Happily there was enough sunny weather in late summer to make decent wines in Touraine, although somewhat earthy and austere in Chinon. Having said that, the Olga Raffault "les Picasses" always becomes a complex and fascinating wine after ten to fifteen years in the bottle, even in "lesser" vintages, showing ripe, gamey black fruits, with earth and vegetal notes, perfect to accompany a rich stew or game dish. Well worth a try for any Chinon lover....