Wednesday, April 02, 2008

WBW #44: can Chinon wines age?

Our friend Pierre, who is originally from the Loire Valley, often tells us great stories about how he would drink old red wines from the Loire with his family, and how delicious they were.

So for the 44th edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday (the theme is French Cabernet Franc), hosted this month by Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library, I decided to taste a 1995 Chinon from Couly-Dutheil that had been laying in my cellar for a while. Additionally, I opened a 2002 from the same producer, just to compare the two wines.

Couly-Dutheil is a major Loire producer that has been making wine in Chinon since 1921. Over the time, the domaine has aquired several different vineyards mostly planted with Cabernet Franc with only a few hectares of Chenin Blanc. While most growers in Chinon make blends from several lots, Couly Dutheil prefers to vinify each vineyard seperately in order to produce wines with a distinctive character.

My 2002 was from the Clos de l'Echo, one of the most famous vineyards in Chinon that was purchased by the Couly-Dutheil family in 1925. The land used to belong to Antoine Rabelais, the father of François Rabelais, the famed 15th Century writer. It is a south-facing vineyard located just behind Chinon's large ruined castle. The soil is clay and quartz with limestone (called tuffeau in the Loire Valley) underneath. It is a unique terroir that produces concentrated and complex wines.

The 1995 was from the Clos de l'Olive, which was bought by the domaine in 1951. It is also a great terroir with a southern exposure, soils of clay and limestone, and planted with old vines, the oldest being 100 years old.



The 1995 Clos de l'Olive had a brick-orange color and a sweet fruity nose with peppery notes. On the palate, it was rather light-bodied with distinctive smoky flavors. Tasted blind, I think I would have mistook it for an old Burgundy.

The 2002 Clos de l'Echo had a deeper garnet color. The nose was more assertive with sweet berry flavors and notes of bell pepper. On the palate, the wine was medium-bodied, juicy with good tannins, followed by a persistent mineral finish.

So can Chinon wines age? I have to say that the 2002 was my favorite but the 1995 was charming. I know I should have invited my friend Pierre to taste the wines, he would have been delighted, but tonight is Wednesday, it is not really party time, and everybody has to work tomorrow!

Previous WBW posts:
•  WBW #43: 2004 Chinon Domaine de la Noblaie Les Chiens-Chiens, a comfort wine
•  WBW #42: a Rosso Conero in just seven words
•  WBW #41: the exciting wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia region

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2 comments:

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Catherine Granger said...

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