This is a wonderful wine made from Cabernet Franc in the small, brilliant village of Chinon. Made by the grand-daughter of the late Olga Raffault, this is full of dark fruits, pencil lead and a green-leafy quality that acts like a freshening balance and makes it perfect with food. This warm vintage makes any hint of under-ripeness disappear, resulting in a wine that is enticing, approachable and significant.
This is from one of the most wonderful clusters of villages in France for producing Cabernet Franc. Though probably originally from south of Bordeaux (where it is an important blending component), it is here just off the Loire that it is made as the shining star.
Never massively full-bodied or overtly powerful, you get elegance and finesse here - somewhat stylistically like a hybrid of the structure from cooler Bordeaux appellations with the complexity and elegance of Burgundy. The Loire is distinctly cooler climate and as a result there isn't as much warmth in the grapes, nor the resultant wines, but that's no bad thing, even if climate change is leading to more and more vintages with fuller, riper fruit. Alcohol levels are often more moderate and there is structure and complexity from the dark grape skins (certainly in the Cabernet Franc wines) that really makes them stand out in the crowd.
Cabernet Franc stands out on its own because of of the stylistic singularities that it possesses: tannic, dry, blackcurrant, redcurrant, leafy and above all else a sense of pencil lead and, in under-ripe vintages, green bell-peppers.
The winery of Olga Raffault has a fascinating story that dates to the end of the second world war. Her husband died suddenly in 1947 with his work in the winery supported by a German prisoner of war and refugee who had been working with them on the estate. The winery is now run by her granddaughter and great-grandson and has been fully certified as organic since 2015.
The wines of Chinon can be light, fruity and fragrant, just as they can be darker and more extracted. This one is a lovely balance of the two styles and is made without any oak influence to allow the fruit to shine through, which it certainly does. Cabernet Franc is certainly a food wine in its richer styles, but this too would be a super match for game and cheeses as well as on its own.
Our match? Well, if it's not duck, give us baguette, decent butter and a whack load of pâté.
Received an honourable mention by Leslie Williams on Sean Moncrieff's Movies & Booze show on Newstalk FM on 9th June, 2023. Sean chimed in with "well worth it"
Region: Loire Valley
Grape(s): Cabernet Franc
Style: Vibrant, Organic, Medium Bodied, Fresh, Complex, Bright
Best food matches: Venison, Tuna, Tapas, Roasts, Poultry, Mature Cheeses, Hard Cheeses, Grills, Duck, Cheeses, Charcuterie, Beef