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Catching up with Couly-Dutheil

I thought the 2003 Clos de l’Echo Crescendo, from Couly-Dutheil, which featured as my wine of the week just a short while ago, was really stunning. So I decided to check in on a few more wines from the Clos de l’Echo. Not the Crescendo though, as the only vintage of this I possess is the aforementioned 2003, just the standard Clos de l’Echo.

These remain strong wines; OK, I admit I have a soft-spot for Clos de l’Echo, as I drank a bottle at one of my graduation dinners, back sometime in the 17th century (well, that’s how it feels). But sentiment isn’t enough to keep me buying wines; these are wines I am happy to have in my cellar. They are rather pricy for Chinon, but the quality is good. By chance the 2005 ended up in a glass next to a 2000 Bordeaux (I won’t say which, but cru classé, third growth, Margaux). The Chinon was undoubtedly the more convincing wine.

Couly Dutheil Clos de l'Echo - 1997, 2003, 2005

Couly-Dutheil Chinon Clos de l’Echo 1997: This wine has displayed something of a split personality over the years, sometimes ripe and impressive, sometimes green. This bottle is different again, as we have marked evolution here. The first sign of this is the dark and aged hue in the glass, more oxblood than red, and with a mahogany tone to it than I don’t find reassurring. The nose takes a little while to open up, at first reticent and green, but with more exposure to air it shows more appealing aromas of smoky tobacco, tar, red liquorice, rose petals and sea shells. The palate is upright but gentle in terms of its structure, but through the middle it shows sappy, dry, pithy substance along with lean, bitter-fruit grip. Aromatically enticing, but with a slightly austere and reserved character in the mouth. Most importantly none of that really obvious green, celeriac-like character coming therough at all, just a little twist of greenness in the finish. It does seem a little more evolved than I expected too; this bottle may not be typical. Nevertheless I really like its evolved, mature style. 17/20 (July 2012)

Couly-Dutheil Chinon Clos de l’Echo 2003: A really convincing colour in the glass, a very dark core, and a concentrated if rather wide rim. The fruit character is remarkably tense for a wine from a vintage that has a reputation for warmth and softness, perhaps even a baked character. Not here though; the fruit has a very crunchy edge, bringing to mind the bite of cranberries, and the bitter twang of red cherry skin and cherry stone. All of this is intertwined with notes of smoke, charcoal and soot, and although there is a tinge of green peppercorn as noted previously it is remarkably subtle. The palate starts off with a very firm character at first, and here the fruit does show a rather leaner, smoky, charcoaly style. There is a little touch of pepper to it as well, but mainly it is all about minerally, just-ripe fruit. The finish is long, dry, still tannin-infused, and savoury. There is plenty of structure here, and also plenty of promise for the future still. And what reassures me most is the very convincing, silky texture that seems to be emerging from underneath the grit of the wine in the midpalate. 17.5/20 (July 2012)

Couly-Dutheil Chinon Clos de l’Echo 2005: Dark and glossy, and yet an obviously vibrant hue when decanted. The aromas are just explosive, the freshly decanted wine filling the room with scents of cranberry, blackcurrants and smoky tobacco. On further assessment these fruit characteristics are also joined by a firm seam of red fruits, raspberries and strawberries, but with a fine pencil-lead and pepercorn bite to them. There’s a tinge of green here that I really like, minty, melding with the aformentioned peppercorn scents and not anything leafy or herbaceous. There’s also something meaty and gamey, rich like pork fat, but it is subtle. The wine certainly has the texture of the 2005 vintage, the weight bold and creamy from the start, and it remains dense and velvety through the middle, although it also allows a remarkable amount of grip and acid to come in on the midpalate as well, such that it shows a good balance of structural components, even if they do all feel a little disparate right now. Fruit with a real bite to it here, not overdone despite the sweet and generous texture, and a good grippy finish. Delicious wine, from a great vintage, that should be stunning given time. 18/20 (July 2012)

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