Tuesday, May 19, 2009
A pair of Chinons
I'd been having a hankering for some Loire cabernet franc, a hankering that had gone unsated for some time. Which is why it was propitious, then, to walk into Jay's apartment on a bright Sunday afternoon and see a handsome decanter standing next to an empty bottle with the pinkish label of Bernard Baudry's Croix Boissée. I walked up close to the artifact: 1996. A quick nose toward the top of the glass container indicated hints of just those savory, spicy qualities I had been thinking of.
Doubled was my pleasure when Chris appeared, an hour later, with a bag that included the unmistakable white-and-blue label of Olga Raffault's Chinon. A 1989 Picasses.
As the starting wines were poured (a lovely 1996 H. Billiot, deeply aromatic Ambonnay bubbles with a sapid quality and a nutty color; a surprising 1988 Piper Sonoma – Jay would say, "This does not have any right to be this good," and he wasn't wrong – followed by various Loire chenins, romorantins and sauvignons, including a 1924 Huet Le Haut-Lieu Moëlleux to pair with seared scallops), I thought on forward to the pleasures of the Chinons to come.
Good Chinon with age is like Chinon young. It hovers in timelessness, encapsulating the place with its bramble and dark fruit and violets.
Later, the Ligerian pair did not falter. The 1996 Baudry Croix-Boissée was smooth and fresh; perhaps a bit absent on the midpalate, but with good length sustaining it into its floral finish. And the 1989 Olga Raffault Chinon Picasses was a punch in the face, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible. Paired perfectly with leg of lamb, it was dark, brawny, rustic and perfect.
What more could one ask for?
Now I need some Breton Bourgueil to take care of the other side of the river, and all will be well.