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Soft, mature, rich, very distinctive … rare and remarkable.Michael Broadbent on an old Couly-Dutheil Clos de L’Olive tasted in 1999
There are two schools of thought regarding Cabernet Franc. Until recently, most of the wine world thought that any discussion of Cabernet Franc begins and ends on Bordeaux’s Right Bank, where only Cheval Blanc reveals its true potential.
But the recent superstardom of Clos Rougeard has abruptly shifted the world’s gaze to the Loire Valley, where Cabernet Franc enjoys a far longer history and in the opinion of many (including ourselves) reaches its richest and most varied expression.
Of course, to understand any red wine’s potential, you have to drink old vintages. In most regions, old vintages are either stratospherically expensive or virtually unobtainable. Perhaps only in Rioja can one routinely find 30-year-old wines at affordable prices.
But there is a 700-year-old domaine in the Loire village of Chinon that defies the odds: Couly-Dutheil. As at other Chinon estates, its vines are almost entirely Cabernet Franc. But unlike other Chinon estates, it owns all of the ancient Clos de L’Olive and Clos de L’Echo vineyards, whose Cabernet Franc is capable of nearly immortal evolution. And it has a library of laughably low-priced—yet pristine—old bottles that it is happy to share with the world to prove the point.
Through a friend of the domaine, we had the good fortune to taste through more than a dozen older vintages. While we chose several wines to buy, one was so jaw-droppingly great we bought every bottle we could: the 1989 Chinon Clos de L'Olive.
In this profoundly classic Old School Chinon, the aromatic and textural grandeur of mature Cabernet Franc is on full and vivid display. And it's a privilege to be able to offer pristine, ex-domaine bottles for an incredible $75.00 each, when you buy them by the six-pack.
The singular beauty of this wine will leave you not only scratching your head but wondering why you didn’t buy more when you had the chance.
A Storied Site
While there has never been an official classification of Chinon’s crus, Couly-Dutheil’s Clos de L'Olive has long been considered one of the appellation’s greatest.
The ancient clos has been part of the Couly-Dutheil domaine since the 1940s, and it still boasts some 100-year-old ungrafted vines, saved from phylloxera by the clos' walls. Its gentle southern slope varies in soil from clay-limestone at the top to sand and gravel at the bottom. Coupled with its ancient vines, it produces a Chinon of stunning depth and complexity.
To express the terroir and grape with stunning clarity, the winemaking is classically minimalist: a month-long fermentation and maceration in stainless steel, with punchdowns for firm structure, followed by aging in barrel and early bottling after three to ten months. This regime allows the primary fruit to develop in bottle, a strikingly pure expression of the noble terroir in the context of its vintage.
Couly-Dutheiul's 1989 Clos de L'Olive provides compelling evidence of the heights that Chinon from a great traditional grower and site can achieve. Yet, it is a monumental steal relative to its age and quality. This is the rare opportunity to buy a distinctive and great mature red wine at a mind-numbingly bargain price.
Limit four 6-packs per client, subject to remaining available.
Four 6-pack per customer limit
A study in mature opulence. A fascinating nose with classic notes of ripe green pepper, marionberry, pepper with milk chocolate and blood orange. Incredibly lush, yet with life-affirming balancing acidity. White and sweet peppers, smoked meat and graphite with a velvety texture and a long palate-staining finish. A miracle at this price.
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