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Arnaud Couly, the winemaker at Domaine Couly-Dutheil has assembled another fabulous cuvee! It's all Cabernet Franc, the grape of the best red wines from the Loire Valley. It seems that the longer we drink wine, the more reds from the Loire end up in our glass. These wines have purity about them that we love. There are no sharp edges. They are not heavy, yet they are substantial and bursting with red berry flavors, and they represent exceptional value. No wonder they are a Parisian bistro favorite. La Coulee Automnale is made from a combination of hillside and table land from the western side of Chinon. The soil is gravelly. The grapes are farmed using a "bio" agricultural system, including a manual harvest (to protect the grapes and eliminate stems & leaves). The wine is aged for 10 months in stainless steel tanks. There is no use of oak barrels to mask the pure fruit flavors. This wine will fill your mouth and please your nose with that seductive aroma that only Cabernet Franc can deliver. We associate it with the smell of wood fires as you only smell in those small beautiful villages in France, like Chinon, in the Autumn. Others say it reminds them of the days of yore when we used to jump in huge piles of fall leaves and then burn them curbside. Whatever it is, it is one satisfying glass of wine! We like to drink this wine when it's fresh and young - within 3 or 4 years from the harvest.
Domaine Couly-Dutheil is a family estate that's been around for about 80 years. Baptist Dutheil married Marie Couly and they bought a piece of the most famous vineyard in Chinon, Clos de l'Echo, which used to be owned by Rabelais's father. Rabelais was the 15th century satirist who believed a good, brimming glass of Chinon would probably do you a lot more good than putting your faith in Catholicism (he was banned by the Catholic church) and many agreed, which is why Rabelais is Chinon's spiritual mascot to this day.
The Cabernet Franc is the undisputed king of Chinon winemaking; producing wines of depth and elegance. At one time, these wines were held the equal of Margaux, according to wine writer Jancis Robinson. Much of the fruit quality is so high, many producers here vinify entirely in stainless steel tank, using no oak whatsoever. Soil types vary, but much of the Loire's alluvial deposits are found in the best plots.