My friend Jim Anderson brought a 1990 Chinon red to lunch the other weekend. Conventional wisdom says that Loire Valley reds—Chinons are based on Cabernet Franc—don't age as well as, say, Bordeaux. But this was a beauty.
It still had a deep, pure color, leaning toward brick and dried leaves. The aromas were expressive, offering tobacco, dried cherry, leather and toasted spices. On the palate it was silky and supple yet still had some firmness. The flavors were mature, with tobacco, mineral and game, yet there was a persistent core of bright cherry. I rated it 90 points, non-blind.
Domaine Olga Raffault has long been a leader in Chinon. I believe Olga herself made the 1990 (her granddaughter now runs the estate). Vines in the Les Picasses vineyard are more than 50 years old. Winemaking is faithfully traditional, with the Chinon fermented in stainless steel and aged in old wood.
The wine usually scores in the very good range (85-89) at Wine Spectator, though this vintage showed poorly on release. It did not please everyone at the table, but my mother-in-law, Nancy, whose palate is firmly rooted in the Old World, was in heaven.
WineSpectator.com members: Get the original blind-tasting review for Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses 1990 ($16 on release).
• Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Loire Valley reds.