Monday, August 23, 2010

Deux Chinon from '02 and an unexpected pairing

I was craving cab franc. Not a usual wine craving for me in the summertime, more likely a Fall, winter and early Spring craving. That is when I'm more inclined to want to drink something substantial and a bit savory, but with the bright flavors and relative textural lightness where you know you are still in the Loire Valley. Seeing as I live in San Francisco, though, and that July as well as August can well offer many cool, autumnal nights, I caught the Chinon bug and decided to crack open a few.

The Chinons

2002 Philippe Alliet Chinon

A basic bottling from this producer, it was honestly clumsy. It was like an aging, out of shape athlete type of Chinon. The muscle had turned to fat, maybe there was a hint of stale cigarettes on its clothes. The wine was front loaded, with a clipped finish and some brett which was increasingly noticeable.

2002 Olga Raffault "Les Picasses" Chinon

I know, comparing a specific terroir such as this to a basic domaine bottling is not fair. Needless to say, this was the far more enjoyable and complex wine of the two. To my tastes, this is nearly perfectly balanced right now between fruit, acid, tannin structure and secondary development. The wine has silky Chinon texture, terrific fruit purity and real presence on the palate. Given that this bottle continued to develop and drink well over a few days, I would not hesitate to age and re-visit this wine several years from now (in fact I will likely do just that as I have a bottle left). However, it sure is drinking well now.

The Pairing

Ever try Chinon with pesto? While pesto with a crisp Italian white is the more often recommended choice, I found that the slightly herbal, leafy quality of the Raffault Les Picasses complemented the pungent, garlicky, herbal pesto, and provided enough acidity to refresh between forkfuls.

The Trivia

Chinon is also the name of a photographic lens manufacturer. They are supposed to be pretty good.