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A.O.C Chinon "Les Barnabés"
Soil: Sand and gravel Grape: Cabernet Franc Vinification: Whole cluster crushed in vats. The must is gradually tempereed down to 28C. After 15 days, the juice is transferred from the vats into 50hl casks for 4 to 6 months.
Barnabes is a single-vineyard with sandy-gravelly soils with less limestone than Picasses. It spends less time in foudre before release.
Profile Since Olga's death a few years ago, Domaine Olga Raffault is currently run by her granddaughter Sylvie and her husband Eric de la Vigerie.
The estate has terrific plots of land in the Savigny-en-Véron district hard by the Vienne riverbanks. The ‘les Picasses’ vineyard stands out from the rest: old vines of 50-ish years on a fairly steep slope from the riverbank that is alluvial clay with a chalk limestone base. The fruit is particularly expressive of dark fruits of cassis and dark cherries with a terrific mineral content and good acidity for structure.
The winemaking is most traditional. The grapes are, of course, handpicked and fermented in stainless-steel. The wines are then aged in larger, neutral oak and sometimes chestnut - a traditional barrel wood in the region. The ‘Picasses’ spends two to three years in oak, to reduce the wine and soften the tannins, and is usually released about 4 years after the vintage.
Raffault’s ‘les Picasses’ often has a light garnet color belying the depth of fruit flavor and complexity. Its style is rustic, quite earthy, with hints of orange zest and deep, dark cherry flavor. The tannins are soft, but present, and the mineral complexity in the finish is superb.
The estate makes two more cuvées of red, les Barnabés and les Peuilles, and a limited-quantity white wine from the Chenin grape, Chinon Blanc le Champ-Chenin.