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, the combination resulting in fully ripened, structured wines. Raffault's mid-slope vines are at least 50 years old and are worked organically and harvested by hand. The fruit is destemmed and the whole, uncrushed berries are fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tank; fermentation and maceration last for 25-30 days, depending on the vintage. The wine is aged for 2-3 years in oak and chestnut foudres ranging from 30-50 hectoliters; it is then further aged in tank and bottle before release about four years after the vintage. Les Picasses is the fullest-bodied, most structured and most complex of the Raffault reds.
Earthy , Elegant , Silky