Château de Coulaine Loire Valley, France.
Château de Coulaine is a family-owned estate rich in viticultural tradition which has been operating continuously since 1300! In the 19th century the estate came to be one of the most notable in Chinon before phylloxera reduced the holdings to just over 1 hectare of Clos de Turpenay. Since 1988, Etienne de Bonnaventure took over the farming of that 1 hectare assuming all viticulture and winemaking responsibilities and has grown the estate to its current 18 hectares, all situated on Chinon’s plateaux. Planted mostly to Cabernet Franc (with a little Chenin blanc making both Chinon blanc and Touraine blanc) particular care is taken to re-plant using selection massale as they have done for generations. The vineyards are organically farmed since 1997, being the first in the appellation to be certified organic, all grapes are hand-harvested and vinification follows a non-interventionalist path. Coulaine’s low yields result in deeply concentrated, savoury and succulent expressions of Cabernet Franc with ripe and polished tannins – a harmonious balance between the traditional and modern worlds. We adore Cabernet Franc and it is easy to see that Etienne has made every effort in the vineyard and the cellars to ensure that these are simply some of the purest and most deliciously approachable examples you will ever come across!
‘Coulaine delivers two of the finest white wines produced within appellation.’
Richard Kelley, The Definitive Guide To The Wines Of The Loire.
2014 Chinon (blanc)
This comes from a tiny plot of 23 year-old vines just opposite the chateau with a full south exposure planted in clay over limestone and also a few rows of 7 year-old vines located up behind the chateau quite high on the slope. Made with indigenous yeast and aged on lees in barrel for 12 months and then in tank for 6-8 months. Shows great intensity of fruit and wonderful freshness from the 2014 vintage. Has a thoroughly Burgundian feel to the wine with 100% malolactic without any sensation of oak from the ageing in barrel. Aged in mostly 3-10 year-old barrels with just one being new. Just 300 dozen bottles produced. Bone dry and 13.5% alc/vol.
2012 Touraine (blanc) Les Pieds Rotis
Pieds Roti is the old original name of the vineyard across the road from the Chateau which was originally AOC Touraine, but since 2015 has been upgraded to AOC Chinon. The vineyard is south facing and soils are strongly calcareous overlaid with rich clay.
‘This cuvée will have the Chinon appellation from 2016, says Pascale. A clay and limestone terroir. A very fine, smoky, minerally nose, with a matchsticky, flinty reductive note to it. The palate is beautifully textured, with a precise, lightly desiccated fruit concentration, and a good grip and backbone too it from the limestone. Tense, but also generous, with great depth in the finish. Excellent.’ 94 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2015.
2015 Chinon (750m & 375ml)
Mostly from younger vines up to about 15 yo, this wine is vinified in cement tanks using indigenous yeast and aged in a combination of large old oak and cement tanks. A real ‘vin de soif’ giving the extravagant raspberry perfume and thirst quenching freshness that Chinon is so well known for. Very fresh, very moreish.
2014 Chinon Bonnaventure
Made from a 1.7ha plot of vines aged 15-20 years, planted on sand over limestone. Aged in 60hl wooden oak vats to allow gentle micro-oxygenation. Perfumed raspberry scented fruit and bright rich black cherry fruit on the palate, showing tremendous fresh Chinon expression.
2013 Chinon Francs de Pieds
Made from a tiny plot of ungrafted vines in front of the chateau. Vinified in cement with indigenous yeast and then aged in 400 litre barrels (none new) the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal S02. This has given the purest expression of Cabernet Franc that one is likely to find in the Loire. Beautifully elegant and fresh with vivid raspberry perfume and intense yet fresh dark berry and spice on palate.
2012 Chinon La Diablesse
Named after a distant relative with a fiery nature named ‘La Diablesse’ (the she-devil). Made from a tiny 0.8ha plot of 80+ year-old vines in the famed Les Picasses vineyard. This small parcel has a north facing exposition giving a finer fresher aspect to the terrific old vine intensity with the finished wine at just 11.9% alc/vol. Vinified in cement tank with indigenous yeast and then aged in mostly older 400 litre barrels (20% new) for 11 months before bottling unfined and unfiltered.
‘The nose is filled with notes of sweet red plums and damsons, quite precisely expressed, and dressed with a floral detailing. The palate has a pretty elegance, showing a similar style of floral fruits, with a dark character, and some lightly defining tannins … It has a little tannic kick in the finish which does hold some appeal. A wine which is certainly fresh and upright.’ 91 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2016.
2012 Chinon Clos de Turpenay
‘Le Clos de Turpenay is the historic 2.2 hectare slope of clay-limestone and flint that flanks the château. The blend includes the original 1.2 hectares inherited by Etienne in 1988 which makes the average age of the vines around 50 years old. The wine is fermented in large wooden vats before being committed to 400 litre oak barrels where the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and ageing.’ Richard Kelley, The Definitive Guide To The Wines Of The Loire.
‘From a terroir of clay and limestone, with more superficial sand. Dark and lightly roasted fruit skins on the nose, most reminiscent of grilled black cherry. A pretty style on the palate, very pure, showing delightful precision, pencil-drawn lines of structure filled with perfumed violet and damson fruits, fresh and framed with delicate acidity and a backdrop of ripe tannins. This needs a few years, but it has a lot of promise. It has a flourish of charming and ripe tannins in the finish.’ 92 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2015.
2011 Chinon Clos de Turpenay
‘A beautifully open and expressive nose, polished fruit, lovely violet tinges, all fresh and tense. The palate shows a generosity not often seen in the 2011 vintage, with a gentle blanket of dark, lightly perfumed fruit, with more grip evident underneath in the middle. This has a fresh, grippy style, with savoury fruit character, and a sappy finish. Overall I find some real appeal here.’ 92 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2015.