Unapologetically Old-Fashioned Chinon: 2006 & 2007 Lenoir Chinon Les Roches

Posted by Joe Salamone

Unapologetically Old-Fashioned Chinon
2006 & 2007 Lenoir Chinon Les Roches

Lenoir Chinon occupies a special place in my heart. For me, they are things of beauty.

There seems to be no effort to wow or impress. The wines are simply honest in the most commendable sense of the word. Wines like Lenoir seem like endangered species. It's for this reason that I made the 2005 Lenoir my wine of the year in 2012.

Without any pretense or self-consciousness, they are old-fashioned wines that thrive on subtlety and elegance. Any time that you have a Lenoir in your glass, lightness of color stands out.

There's zero effort to push extraction and ripeness. Instead they thoughtfully exploit Cab Franc for all the finesse, haunting perfume and minerality that it can possess. There's zero effort to rush anything. The 2006 and 2007 are just hitting the market. Compare this to most Chinon producers whose 2012s are already available.

As I write this, I'm drinking the '07 with the staff and a bunch of them are freaking out about it. It's showing great. It has complex aromatics, deep minerality and notes of sandalwood and flowers that Cabernet Franc gets with age. Expect the 2006 to be much more structured.

Lenoir makes it a point to hold back their releases until the wines start to enter their drinking windows. Until that point, the wines rest in their icy cellars, which are somewhere around five or six hundred years old. The harmony allows Lenoir's wines to age really, really well. Their wines from the 80s are still in gorgeous shape. (I'm told the same is true with bottles from the 70s.)

Lenoir's Chinon comes from the 3ha Les Roches vineyard. It's on the same slope as the renowned Les Picasses and (like Picasses) is considered one of Chinon's great sites. The vines here are really old - many of them are Franc de Pied - and dig into ground with very little top soil and the hard tuffeau, a limestone rock underneath. This is the soil that produces the most structured Chinons.

It's been a couple of years since we've seen a release on Lenoir. He works according to his own schedule, listening to the wines. This is an offer that I'd suggest you jump on. These are beautiful, heartfelt expressions of Cab Franc. They are throwbacks. There's nothing out there like them.

To order, reply to offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits