Our bags rattle, lost, over streams of cobbled streets. Tram lines, torn up decades ago, are returning (thanks environmentalists) but not yet functional (thanks unions).
With our hostel found, we unload our gypsy-train of luggage and jackets to explore the town.
Tours looks immaculate and charming after Paris. No crowds, no pickpockets, and even less snobbery. Far more Renaissance dwellings have survived the 19th century and modernism. This is just a nice place.
We get lost again exploring the ancient, meandering streets.
Once more we find ourselves starving and exhausted. A massive indoor market, rioting with vendors, provides salvation in the form of local bread and cheese. At the entrance stands Les Belles Caves:
Wines and whiskeys line every surface except the ceiling. But local Loire wines in all formats dominate:
We have to choose something, so we choose two things:
A 2006 and 2009 Cabernet Franc from just a few strokes downriver in Chinon.
Olga Raffault took over her husband’s vines after WWII. With Ernest Zenninger’s expertise, Olga’s wines became the textbook by which all other Loire reds were gauged. Working into her eighties, Olga died a few years ago. Her son Jean and wife Irma followed, and now her granddaughter Silvie with her husband Eric de la Vigerie have taken the reigns.
While we waited two hours for potatoes to bake…in a pan…on a dorm stove, we opened her Les Peuilles, 2009 first:
Now Wayward Wine featured another 2009 Chinon Cab Franc. We loved it, but it came from Jean’s (Olga’s son) Les Galluches vineyards (see Les Galluches post). So getting to try Olga’s 2009 for only 8 euro 50 excited us.
A legless, average purple color fills the glass.
Bright, youthful cherry and bell pepper aromas front a background of dark plum and vanilla cookie.
This is dry, snappy, tart, and medium in body.
Vibrant, simple, but cutting flavors of cranberry, raspberry sauce, and bell pepper lead to a somewhat short length.
Les Peuilles 2009 was a good (3 of 5) wine, perfect for a very French lunch, but probably too young to flaunt its stuff last fall.
So let’s step up our game:
Olga Raffault, Les Picasses, Cabernet Franc, Chinon, 2006:
Olga had these vines planted when she started half a millennium ago.
The wine looks a clear, medium intense garnet with ruby edges.
Mature, strong aromas glow with violet perfume, anise, cigar, caramelized pear, prune, chocolate, and barnyard brett.
The palate is dry, sparking with acidity, silk-grained tannins, and a medium body.
Loaded flavors range from tart red apple, to a soft, woody cigar core, and a tangy lime finish with medium plus length.
Les Picasses 2006 is very good (4 of 5). Lovely wood spice, florals, earth, and silken, chai tea like characteristics compensate for lean fruit.
Clearly the wines of Olga Raffault are meant for the long haul. Enjoyable young, their restrained style will pay off for any willing to wait.
- Domaine de Pallus Les Pensées de Pallus Chinon 2006 (waterintowino.com)
- Secret Wine Club – The Loire Valley (winelandia.com)
- Domaine de L’R (Chinon, Loire) (wineterroirs.com)