Four years ago, my wife and I landed in Tours on the Loire River in France. The city jumbled modern and medieval comfortably. Our ’70’s dorm sat a few blocks from “an indoor market, rioting with vendors, that provides salvation in the form of local bread and cheese.” At entrance sat the wine shop, Les Belles Caves. I grabbed multiple bottles of Chinon, Cabernet Franc, from textbook producer, Olga Raffault.
Olga took over her husband’s vines after WWII. With Ernest Zenninger’s expertise, Olga’s wines gained glory. She worked into her eighties, while her son Jean and wife Irma followed. Now her granddaughter, Silvie, with her husband Eric de la Vigerie run the reigns.
We first tried Olga’s Les Peuilles 2009. I claimed it “good (3 of 5) wine, perfect for a very French lunch, but probably too young to flaunt its stuff.” Luckily, we also had Olga Raffault’s Les Picasses vineyard 2006.
Maybe it was the fifty-plus year-old vines. Maybe we finally got to eat our potato dinner. Either way, Les Picasses was “very good (4 of 5). Lovely wood spice, florals, earth, and silken, chai tea like characteristics compensate for lean fruit.”
So. Now that I am older, less wise, and no longer in France, how might Olga Raffault’s 2010 Les Picasses fair?
AROMAS smell intensely of iron filings, tanned leather, porcini mushrooms, cedar, boysenberry jam, and lavender.
The dry PALATE feels reedy, lean, with twangy acidity and a soft yet splintered woody tannic structure.
Medium intensity FLAVORS taste of boysenberry, lemon, red apple skin, cedar, and fresh herbs that carry a long length. 4 of 5 very good.
Honestly, most would find these descriptors unpleasant. Even in 2012, Olga’s 2006 ranged from “tart red apple, to a soft, woody cigar core, and a tangy lime finish”. Yum? Probably not. But one cannot always sit in a hammock and wear sweats. From time to time, an office chair and a suit force us to take things seriously.
Likewise, Olga Raffault’s Les Picasses 2010, as with their 2006, is a masterwork in controlling Brettanomyces. The wild yeast can ruin a wine. But the Raffaults have enough twangy fruit and effort to tame the beast. But this thing still demands food. Charcuterie, coq au vin, baked garlic, grilled game bird, and aged hard cheeses will set it straight.
To Raffault’s credit, Les Picasses 2006 and 2010 maintain a line of continuity and quality, even across continents and time. They demand one to perk up, focus, make an effort but not try too hard.