Philippe Alliet Chinon Vieilles Vignes 2003
I have been drinking a few more Loire reds over the past few weeks, some old favourites as well as some wines new to me. This week and next week I will be looking at two that stood out in particular, both from the vineyards of the Touraine. This week a wine from one of the Loire's best known appellations, and certainly the best in terms of quality as far as red wines are concerned, in my opinion. Nevertheless the wines of Chinon, and perhaps the red wines of the Loire as a whole, have a reputation for greenness, betraying the inclusion of under-ripe fruit and stalks in the fermentation vats. Whereas this may be less of an issue in recent vintages, which have been more favourable for the ripening of red grapes than some others have in the past, it is still a region where careful selection (on the part of the consumer as well as the vigneron) can go a long way towards ensuring a good wine. This is no different to any other wine region of course. Around Chinon there are a handful of names to look out for; Bernard Baudry, Couly-Dutheil and Olga Raffault to name just three. Without doubt, Philippe Alliet is another, and indeed many would consider this domaine the leader in the appellation. Alliet is a Bordeaux enthusiast, visiting the region regularly, and when one looks at his commitment to wine, and to his vineyards, it is perhaps no surprise that his wines possess the style and panache with which they are endowed.
Although Philippe Alliet started out small he has since expanded his domaine, most notably with the acquisition of the Coteau de Noire vineyard, which gives him his flagship wine. The wine tasted here is perhaps the next in his small but impressive portfolio, the Chinon Vieilles Vignes, in this case the 2003 vintage, which is sourced from 50-year old vines. When poured this has a very dark, glossy appearance, a deeply coloured dark claretty hue, extending from the core right out to a thin, deep pink rim. The nose is really impressive, showing a deep purity of dark berry fruit that is not a common finding in the appellation. It is deeply characterful and yet also very pure and fresh. On the palate, it has an old vines creaminess and again a fine freshness, gently underpinned by a little core of ripe, polished tannins. This has a wonderful concentration and extract, all framed in a stylish and smooth texture. Very good indeed, with fine potential for the cellar. 17+/20 (28/5/07)