2016 Chinon Les Cornuelles, 2017 Le Logis de la Bouchardiere Chinon
The Loire Valley is a treasure trove of underappreciated wine styles. Deceptively light-bodied, yet often full of earthy, dark, cassis fruit reminiscent of Bordeaux, the best reds of Chinon have enormous ageing potential. We sought out the wines of Bruno Sourdais after having sampled some irresistible mature bottles from the 1990s that came our way, still full of fruit but now complemented by tertiary mushroom, spice and pencil lead notes.
Bruno Sourdais joined his father Serge in 1990, marking the sixth generation for a domaine that was founded sometime in the 1840s. It's a classic Chinon domaine, just outside the town of Cravant-les-Coteaux, with most of the vineyards on steep slopes either side of the River Vienne. It's hard work for the vines, growing through the scree on thin, flinty soils. Bruno adopts a lutte raisonnée approach in the vineyards, using minimal chemical treatments - a self-sacrificing approach in the damp Loire. In the cellars, he follows a very traditional model, with everything he makes passing through wood at some stage in its elevage.
Les Cornuelles is the domaine's top cuvee, from a parcel of very old vines on a south-facing limestone slope. The very youngest vines here were planted by Bruno's grandfather and are at least 60 years old; the oldest vines are over 100. The 2016 Cornuelles is already very drinkable, but is only going to get better for the next decade or so. If you feel you can't give the Cornuelles long enough for it to reveal its full depths, then the domaine's Le Logis de la Bouchardiere (from merely 30 year-old vines) offers a more immediate take on the classic Chinon style. /NT
Offered subject to remaining unsold; available immediately