The Wine of the Week by Annette Tomei
2009 Jean-Maurice Raffault ‘Les Picasses’ Chinon, Loire Valley, France
Chinon is a region that, although in the Loire Valley, is also associated with the Touraine. The appellation is known for its red wines made from Cabernet Franc, which also goes by its local name “Breton”; the AOC also allows for up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon in a blend. They also produce rosé and a very small amount of white wine from the Chenin Blanc grape.
Although Cabernet Franc is frequently associated with the Bordeaux region, where it is one of the primary grapes, the soil and climate conditions in Chinon produce a markedly different style of wine. The red wines of Chinon are known to be light to medium bodied with crisp berry flavors that go great with food. Depending on where in the area the grapes are grown, the flavor profile can be more light and fruity (in alluvial soils) or more tannic and earthy (on rocky hillside vineyards).
The Raffault family has been established in Chinon since the late 1600s. The late Jean-Maurice took over in 1973 and made his mark on the region with many new practices and improvements, including vinifying and labeling by specific vineyard site. Rodolfe Raffault has been carrying on the family traditions since 1997 and maintains a sustainable viticulture program with no chemical fertilizers or herbicides used.
The Les Picasses site is in the hills of the region, the stony soil and windy terroir imparts more intensity to these wines. After vinification, this wine is aged in neutral oak barrels for 18 months sur lie prior to bottling.
The 2009 vintage is bright and crisp. Aromas of raspberry and anise are carried by a balance of smooth tannins and fresh acidity to a clean lightly minerally finish. This wine is up for many types of food and is a great choice when you’re dining out and everyone is having something different. At a recent meal, we enjoyed this wine with a simple salad, baked oysters, rabbit pot pie, crispy fried chicken, and a hearty pasta – it flowed seamlessly from one dish to the next.
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