Unapologetically Old-Fashioned, Unforgettably Pure: 2004 Lenoir Chinon Les Roches

Posted by Joe Salamone

Unapologetically Old-Fashioned,
Unforgettably Pure
2004 Lenoir Chinon Les Roches

Lenoir is an unapologetically old-fashioned domaine. Their Chinons are without flash, without artifice. They are things of beauty.

Lenoir is able to deliver something that seems more and more elusive in today's polished and business-savvy wine world: honesty.

Their 2004 Chinon Les Roches represents one of the purest examples of Cabernet Franc that I've tasted. The wine has spent the last eight years in the cellars at Lenoir and it comes to the table today at just over $20.

This is a bit crazy, but so it goes.

Pop the bottle, pour a glass: One of the things that stands out is how light the color is. There's no effort made to push extraction. Instead, the intention is to render Chinon that's elegant and full of haunting perfume and minerality.

The 2004 is the current release. In Lenoir's icy cellars, which are somewhere around five or six hundred years old, the wines spend three years mostly in old foudres (there are some old Bordelais barrels as well). Once bottled, the wines rest in Lenoir's cellars until they begin to reach early drinkability. Then, they are released.

To put this in context, pretty much every other Chinon producer has released their 2010s at this point. Releasing wines late is a huge commitment, especially in the cash flow department.

For drinkers, at least, it's worth it. Cabernet Franc needs time to express itself, especially in a cool and classical vintage like 2004. But when Cab Franc begins to become expressive, it's a thing of great depth and beauty.

And this is exactly the phase that Lenoir's Chinon Les Roches is beginning to enter. Notes of sandalwood and flowers have become unlocked. The tannins have softened. Herbs and minerals become integrated into red fruits with aromatics that are just gorgeous.

Lenoir has a deep cellar of old vintages and the wines have a reputation for aging very well. The 2004 is nowhere near its peak; it's just beginning to enter a phase where its starting to drink well. It has a good five years ahead of it, and likely many more after that. There's a balance and harmony that promises an interesting and long life.

Lenoir's Chinon comes from the 3ha Les Roches vineyard. It's a vineyard of mostly old vines with very little top soil over the hard tuffeau, a limestone rock that produces the most structured Chinons.

That's the story. Laying down more superlatives would defy the spirit of the wine. I should just say that I really enjoy and admire Lenoir's Chinons and am happy that they've finally found their way to the east coast. For those of you Loire fanatics, those who value purity and subtlety, their 2004 Chinon is worth checking out. Pricing is very fair and accessible.

To order, please email us at offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits