Whee! This is a Beauty From The Loire!
By Cynthia Hurley

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The Chateau Chinon and lower village on the banks of the Vienne River

I expected to like this Rosé, because when Arnaud Couly of Domaine Couly-Dutheil makes a wine he really pours himself into it, but I didn't expect to be completely conquered by its nervy little charm. This is some Rosé!

Arnaud was with us in Boston not long ago showing all of his Chinons.  And what a line-up of bottles he had with him. We all know and love his succulent and aromatic Baronnie Madeleine, his Rene Couly, and, of course, his Clos de l'Echo (probably the best red wine vineyard in the entire Loire Valley). Each wine is distinctively different and expresses its individual terroir. Arnaud's Rosé was a revelation to me. Made from 100% Cabernet Franc, it takes Rosé to a new level.

Arnaud's Rosé brings summer to my lips. You can taste the hint of red berries (Rosé should never just taste like pink white wine) and there is that zing of fresh, perfect acidity in your mouth. The color is like a perfect sunset after a perfect day of summer.

And it comes from one of the most beautiful villages in all of France: Chinon. I've been drinking Chinon for twenty-five years. I cannot taste a Chinon without a vivid picture of the riverside wine village popping into my mind.

For a quarter of a mile in each direction along the River, stand charming stone houses built right into the hillside. The land rises steeply from the bank and on its highest part with a lot of vineyards in between sits the ancient Chinon chateau, noble though in ruins.

All up and down the river are France's signature plane trees, stumpy and squat from rigorous pruning in the winter and bursting with shade-giving leaves in the summer. There is an open-air market once a week. You can sip your noir double in the morning and watch the trafficking of ripe peaches and aromatic melons and cheeses and feel a few million miles away from anything flashy and artificial and second-rate.

Domaine Couly-Dutheil has been making some of the Loire's best wines for 80 years now. This Rosé is produced on gravel and sandy soils. The grapes are picked by hand and the yields are low. The best Rosé is made by pressing the grapes the way you normally would for any red wine. The juice is allowed to sit with the grape skins briefly picking up not just color, but also tannins, pectins and proteins, which give the wine structure. Then the juice is drained off, put into another vat without the skins and the fermentation proceeds. The process is called saignée.

This is what gives Rosé its beautiful, seductive, pale color and subtle red fruit notes. Are you ready for summer? This Rosé says you are. Cynthia Hurley


Couly-Dutheil Rene Couly Rose 2007

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