Olga Raffault Chinon "Les Picasses" 2009
About the wine:
100% Cabernet Franc. Les Picasses is the most famous Chinon lieu-dit, close to the village of Beaumont-En-Véron on the north bank of the Vienne River. It is a slope with full southern exposure and chalky clay-limestone soils. Raffault's mid-slope vines are at least 50 years old and are worked organically and harvested by hand. The fruit is destemmed with the berries left whole; they are fermented with indigenous yeasts in tank with a maceration of 25-30 days. The wine is aged for one to two years in 30-hectoliter oak and chestnut foudres; it is then aged in bottle for several years before release.
About the producer:
Since Olga's death, Domaine Olga Raffault is currently run by her granddaughter Sylvie and her husband Eric de la Vigerie.
The estate has terrific plots of land in the Savigny-en-Véron district, right by the Vienne riverbanks. The "Les Picasses" vineyard stands out from the rest: old vines of 50-ish years on a fairly steep slope from the riverbank that is alluvial clay with a chalk limestone base. The fruit is particularly expressive of cassis and dark cherries with a terrific mineral content and good acidity for structure.
The winemaking is most traditional. The grapes are, of course, handpicked and fermented in stainless-steel. The wines are then aged in larger, neutral oak and sometimes chestnut - a traditional wood barrel in the region. The "Picasses" spends two to three years in oak, to reduce the wine and soften the tannins, and is usually released about four years after the vintage. It often has a light garnet color belying the depth of fruit flavor and complexity. Its style is rustic, quite earthy, with hints of orange zest and deep, dark cherry flavor. The tannins are soft, but present, and the mineral complexity in the finish is superb. Over the years, it has gained cult status as one of the benchmark expressions of Chinon's terroir.
The estate makes two more cuvées of red, "Les Barnabés" and "Les Peuilles", as well as limited Chinon Blanc called "Champ-Chenin".