Cabernet Franc is surely one of the world's greatest red wine grapes. It can make excellent wine in many styles, from light-and-fruity "bistro" quaffers to structured, dense vins de garde. It can evoke a kaleidoscope of flavors, like cherries, flowers, bell peppers, clay, or potting soil—sometimes all at once. It's also a great transmitter of terroir, showcasing its origin with fine geological and climatic detail.The grape is most at home in the Loire, where it reigns as the region's supreme red variety. The best examples are found in the AOCs of Saumur-Champigny and Chinon, and it is the latter where the benchmark domaine of Olga Raffault is located. Raffault has been crafting some of the most iconic, terroir specific wines in Chinon for decades. Their wines do not shy from every thing that Cabernet Franc has to offer and they age extremely well. Those of us who have been enjoying the library releases from the '80's and '90's over the years can attest well to their longevity. Unfortunately that well has now essentially run dry and they are releasing more current vintages. The good news is you don't have to wait decades to enjoy them; they are silky, savory, and delicious even in their youth. But give the wines a few years and the terroir becomes more assertive. The wine develops a rather generous, pungently sylvan perfume and the core of cherry-red fruit becomes even more refined. That's precisely what great Chinon can do.Obviously, we’re big fans of this Chinon benchmark. The estate is currently run by Olga’s grandaughter Sylvie and her husband, Eric. We admire how the winemaking has stayed super-traditional over the decades. And we love how prices have remained very reasonable, too.
What importer Bowler Wine has to say about this 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.
Loire Valley Wines
The Loire Valley is France’s greatest source of value for anyone looking for elegant, terroir-driven wines. Our collection celebrates the region’s great diversity, with the mineral-driven whites of Muscadet and Sancerre, the beautiful Chenin Blancs and Cabernet Francs from villages like Vouvray and Chinon, and natural wines from everywhere in the region. Sometimes wonderfully fresh and gulpable, sometimes serious and age-worthy, the prices are always very reasonable.