2017 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses
Over many decades and five generations, Domaine Olga Raffault has gained cult status as unquestionably one of the benchmark producers for top-quality, traditional Chinon. These are beautifully balanced and complex medium bodied reds. The fruit is elegant and refined with extremely fine tannins, earthy but with plenty of acidity and a mineral edge. They drink wonderfully on release but are also capable of aging for decades. Olga Raffault has a very intriguing history, There are few women who have given their names to estates in the Loire Valley, but Olga Raffault is one of them. She took over the reins of the Domaine under tragic circumstances: She and her husband Pierre had operated this estate together until he died unexpectedly just before harvest in 1947. Without him Olga was left to run the business alone, assisted by Ernest Zenninger, a German prisoner of war who had found refuge and work at Raffault years earlier. According to the family, the "courageous and generous German" did not understand the war and found meaning through the deep friendship that he wove with his ‘Protectors,’ the Raffault family. In return he made a promise to devote his life to Olga and her two children at the last moments of Pierre Raffault. Ernest became the winemaker at the Domaine and mentored Olga’s son Jean Raffault as he grew up. The two of them ran the estate as a team for decades, under Olga’s watchful eye, until Jean’s daughter Sylvie and her husband Eric de la Vigerie took over in 2000. Raffault has terrific plots of land in the Véron, a strip of land with sandy and gravelly soils where the Vienne River intersects with the much larger Loire. They farm 24 hectares with vines averaging over 30 years in age. Most of it Cabernet Franc with a minuscule one hectare of Chenin Blanc. Raffault have a very minimalist approach both in the vineyard and the winery. The grapes are always hand-picked, only native yeasts are used, and they choose not to destem the bunches before fermentation begins in stainless steel. The wines are then aged slowly in larger, neutral oak and chestnut - a traditional wood barrel in the region.
What The Critics Say
94/100 View from the cellar, John Gillman
"The 2017 vintage of les Picasses from Domaine Raffault has just been released, nearly six years out from the vintage. The wine is simply outstanding on both the nose and palate, with the bouquet hopping from the glass in a vibrant and already complex blend of sweet dark berries, cassis, cigar wrapper, gravelly soil tones, a touch of smoked meats, currant leaf and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and complex, with superb mid-palate depth, excellent soil signature and grip, ripe, well-measured tannins and impeccable balance on the long, complex and very classy finish. At age six, this wine is certainly approachable today, but it is still a puppy and the real fireworks will not start until it is at least twelve years of age. Outstanding young Chinon! 2023-2075+."
94/100 John Gillman (2016 vintage)
"The 2016 vintage of Chinon “les Picasses” from Domaine Olga Raffault is the current release of this cuvée from the domaine and it is absolutely marvelous. The Raffault vines in les Picasses are all at least fifty years of age and the wine is aged in large, old foudres of oak andchestnut prior to bottling, and then given bottle aging in the cellars before release. The 2016 comes in at 12.5 percent octane and offers up a beautiful, classic nose of cassis, dark berries, tree bark, menthol, cigar wrapper, chalky soil tones, a hint of meatiness and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a fine core of fruit, excellent transparency and grip, ripe, buried tannins and a long, well-balanced and very promising finish. At six years of age, this is still a fairly young wine, and though it is certainly approachable today, its apogee is still several years in the future! Fine, fine juice. 2022-2065+"
93/100 Vinous, Rebecca Gibb MW (2016 vintage)
"From a limestone-based plot on the Chinon plateau, the 2016 Chinon Les Picasses features intriguing warming spices, including garam masala, as well as piquant black cherry, all followed up with mouthwatering acidity. Like their other cuvées, it's not showy and extroverted but quiet, its joy being in its tender caress on the midpalate. It has grown up in large foudres (50hl) over a year but reveals little woody influence. The finish has fine sinew and refined chalky tannins that draw the palate out on the lengthy, tea-leaf-like and spiced finish." Drink 2021 - 2032
|2023 - 2045
This Wine Goes Well With
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