2020 Domaine des Frères, Chinon Rouge “Les Picasses” Loire Valley, France.
The perfumed and deeply hued Les Picasses, 100% Cabernet Franc, from the Chinon AOC, by Domaine des Frères is a gorgeous and authentic wine that absolutely thrills the senses and engages the palate with utter transparency and true terroir character with crushed violets, minty herbs, chalky stony essence and earthy red fruits filling the medium body with a joyous array of flavors, along with hints of bell pepper, nutmeg, cedar, saddle leather and anise. Within minutes I was completely seduced by this wine and sat back allowing a rotation of red currant, mulberry, raspberry and cherry to emerge, while the raw tannin gave way to a gracious supple texture, this Chinon is exactly what it is supposed to be and is youthfully fresh and lively, adding to the pleasure and keeping everything taut and focused. Domaine des Frères converted all their vines to organic and work all by hand, making each of their wines from individual parcel, which each getting the treatment to best showcase their distinctive qualities, but always employing natural yeast fermentation(s) and non intervention winemaking. You can taste the place here, and the underpinning of classic Tuffeau limestone and clay soils, as well as the traditional used large cask aging that this Les Picasses saw, making for an exceptional and what I think to be, an age worthy wine, though I would be hard pressed to keep from opening it, such is its gift of pleasure right now. Loire Cab Franc fans will want to take note of this tiny winery and its micro cuvées, it is a label to watch!
Very exciting new discovery from the Loire, Domaine des Frères, which was created in 2019 by two brothers, Henri and Valentin Bruenau, who grew up near Chinon and interestingly both went on to become engineers, before, recently, coming home to pursue the dream of making small lot hand rafted that spoke to their heart and of the land where the grapes are grown. And from what I tasted recently, especially this incredible pure, aromatic and outstanding single cru Chinon Les Picasses, the same vineyard area that the famed Olga Raffault estate uses in that legendary Chinon, things are going well indeed. Valentin and his wife Marie run the Domaine and Valentin, who has been mentored by some famous Loire names, including Tanguy Perrault, Philippe Chigard and one of favorites Bernard Baudry, and who went back to school, earning a degree in in viticulture and oenologie in the Mâcon, Burgundy is the winemaker. The estate, 11 ha in Beaumont en Véron (AOC Chinon), which had to be crowd funded, includes old vines (30 to 60 years old) which are planted on hillsides with 6 different terroirs and is 70% of historic massal selections and a beautiful original cellar that is cut to the Tuffeau limestone. Valentin says, as mentioned, that he bottles the wine by parcel, each cuvée bearing the name of its unique terroir, like Le Pérou, Les Moulins de Beau Puy, and in this case, Les Picasses, adding that he endeavors to produce vibrant, artisanal, and precise wines with the characteristics of each specific site (terroir). The Domaine only makes single varietal wines, either 100% Chenin Blanc, which I haven’t yet tried and 100% Cab Franc, which I highly recommend, in particular this one!
($60 ESt.) 94 Points, grapelive