Château de Coulaine Chinon Clos de Turpenay 2010
It’s a good time to be a drinker of the Loire Valley’s red wines right now. I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say “we’ve never had it so good”, after all it’s not like the wines of the 1989 and 1990 vintages are just about to come on the market, nevertheless I would maintain that there is much to be positive about at the moment. We might have to look past the likes of 2013 and, to a lesser extent 2012, to see the quality, but it’s there. First, there are still wines from the delightful 2009, 2010 and 2011 vintages hanging around in the market, so you haven’t missed out. The latter of these three vintages is perhaps more likely to be overlooked, but don’t fall into the trap of extrapolating the difficulties of Bordeaux 2011 onto Loire 2011. Many vignerons in the Loire Valley were able to take advantage of the long and warm autumn that lay heavy on the vineyards that year. Some of the 2011s I have tasted are set to be stunning – in about twenty years time, that is.
Leaping the chasm of the two vintages that followed (although there are, from the top names of course, good wines to be found in these vintages) we come to the beautifully fresh and pure 2014s. The more serious wines will be coming to the end of their élevage during the next year, and then they will be heading for bottle, and for market. Hopefully during 2016 I will be able to taste and report on a broader range of wines than the mostly entry-level wines I have so far encountered (which have been really exciting). And then we have 2015, which also promises much. Hopefully I will get a look at some of the basic cuvées, or maybe the odd brut de cuve sample, in coming months. All of which means this is a perfect time to begin expanding my coverage of some of the Loire Valley’s red wine appellations.
It will be a slow burn at first, as I probably won’t be able to really get going until my next visit to the Loire Valley in early 2016, but I’m starting here anyway with the 2010 Clos de Turpenay from Château de Coulaine, and I will be following up with a detailed profile of the domaine tomorrow. It is a domaine that I have a lot of experience with, although the vast majority of my tasting notes have languished in obscurity as I never got around too writing a full profile before now. Some of the wines I have tasted here have been superb, bright, vibrant, pure with a pointed precision. Sometimes, though, they seem to miss the mark, so it isn’t a domaine that is reliably consistent. But when proprietor Etienne de Bonnaventure hits the mark, he can hit it dead-centre.
The Clos de Turpenay is historically a very important vineyard for the domaine, as when Etienne inherited the property from his father it had gone into serious decline, and all that remained were a few rows of vines in this particular clos. Happily, the domaine has since been re-established, and this vineyard remains a core feature of the portfolio. The 2010 Clos de Turpenay from Château de Coulaine has a gloriously dark, black-tulip hue in the glass, but with a bright shimmering character. It is certainly not leaden or opaque in appearance. The nose is beautifully pure, fabulously tense, full of black grape skins and black cherry stones, all in a very perfumed style, indeed it is a wine that seems to have captured the very essence of the grapes when just emptied, freshly-picked, into the fermentation vat. The plate is cool, stony, fresh and challenging, with some sappy tannins and a bright, tense acidity, the whole effect brimming with almost-sour fruit. There are also touches of tobacco leaf, pencil-purity and cedar, and buried deeply beneath everything else, some ripe, pointed tannins which roll through the finish, almost like the cogs on a wheel turning across the palate. This is very characterful, and while it is very different to many 2010s I have tasted from other leading domaines in Chinon, which tend to show more plush fruit and texture, in its own way it is entirely delightful. It will be better in five or ten years (at least) though. 17/20 (9/11/15)