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Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses 1990

Olga RaffaultHaving visited the Loire again this year, I have added a number of bottles of Chinon to the cellar, most notably from the recent, very successful 2005 vintage, but also from 2002 and 2003. I expect I will be tasting many of these wines again over the next year, as I re-examine their potential for ageing, but I thought it would be interesting to look at a mature example of one of the wines I purchased.

Domaine Olga Raffault can be found in in Savigny-en-Véron, very close to the Vienne. The estate comprises 25 hectares of vineyards, including a number of vines in Les Picasses, a large vineyard just to the east of Avoine, a town which itself is just to the east of in Savigny. The other sites associated with Olga Raffault, Les Barnabés and Champ-Chenin, the latter the source of the domaine's white Chinon, are very close to Savigny. Les Picasses, however, a limestone terroir, yields the wine with the greatest potential.

Olga RaffaultThe 1990 Les Picasses from Olga Raffault has, as would naturally be expected, a quite mature hue in the glass. Nevertheless, it is certainly not short of colour, with a deeply pigmented core fading out to a dusky, almost oxblood rim with a tinge of orange-pink at the edge. It has an immediately meaty character, the wine releasing these aromas from the bottle before I even have a chance to pour it into the glass. Beyond this, the nose is one of subtle complexities, showing a rather hard core of iron-bound fruit, with notes of black olives and some chalky minerality. It rather reminds me of a maturing claret from a minor left bank château, a wine dominated by hard-nosed Cabernet Sauvignon, rather than being instantly identifiable as pure Cabernet Franc or indeed Chinon. It is lean and ungiving on entry, but shows a little flesh through the midpalate, just enough to cover its bones, although it has a lovely silky-sweet character, which vies for your attention, its competitors being some peppery tannins and a nicely perfumed, violet tinged fruit. Rather drying tannic on the finish, but mixed with a nice texture too, and overall this wine still shows a good level of well balanced structural components. And there is rather a nice length, where a little sweet fruit persists on the palate. To be critical, although there is some attractive feminine perfume to it, it does seem a little angular here and there, the flesh underneath that appealing texture is a little deficient, and it is a little hot on the finish. A little more integration would be more appealing, but I am not convinced the wine has the stuffing necessary to give the tannins time to settle out. Nevertheless, it has a very elegant style, and it has freshness, and both of these are under-rated components of a wine. This is good to drink, and it will be interested to see how the more recent vintages I have in my cellar fair by comparison. 16.5/20 (19/11/07)

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