Yannick Amirault Bourgueil La Coudraye 2017
Winegrower: Yannick Amirault
Region: Bourgueil (Loire Valley) France
Grape: Cabernet Franc
Shipping: September 2018
This week our focus is on Yannick Amirault of Bourgueil. Yannick makes what are regarded as some of the most beautiful Cabernet Franc wines in the Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Appellations. These are wines with complex red fruit and spice flavours. You might recall that last week we offered a wine from what we feel is the finest winegrower in Chinon – Olga Raffault. Today’s offer is for the flagship wine – La Coudraye 2017 – of its outstanding neighbour on the opposite side of the Loire.
The Amirault estate was founded four generations ago by Yannick's grandfather Eugène with his small vineyard bordering the town of Bourgueil. Yannick took over his grandfather’s three and a half hectares of vineyards in 1977 at the age of 22. He now farms 14 hectares in Bourgueil and eight in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. Today he is regarded as not only the best producer in these Appellations, but also one of the finest red winegrowers in the entire Loire Valley. Sommeliers and connoisseurs alike regard Yannick’s wines as some of the most complex and consistent of the Loire Valley. The Domaine is an unfailing source of wines capable of offering exceptional pleasure when young with the top cuvées rewarding extended cellaring. The Amirault estate produces wonderfully deep, age-worthy wines with dense fruit and smooth tannins. His wines are standard issue on the best wine lists in France and around the world.
Yannik’s son Benoît started to work with him in 2003 and like his father he is dedicated to achieving the highest quality while protecting the environment. The estate was certified Organic in 2009 and practices biodynamics in accordance with the lunar calendar. No chemical sprays or weed killers have been used since 1997. There are three types of soils to be found on the estate, and they run longitudinally along the slope and through both appellations. Altitude rather than commune denotes the differences in the wines. The grapes are harvested by hand and only small buckets are used to prevent premature crushing. Yannick usually harvests his grapes later than anyone else in the region so as to achieve maximum ripeness. The grapes are destemmed, and fermentations occur naturally in wood vats with indigenous yeasts. The wines are aged in wood and bottled unfined and unfiltered with only a little sulphur added.
La Coudraye 2017 is the product of 35-year-old vines from a 4.75-hectare vineyard of the same name. Fermentation occurred in open wood vats over three to four weeks and the wine was aged in old oak for six months. This wine offers poised fruit and elegant balance. The beautiful aromatics are fresh with cherry, mulberry, wildflowers, herbs and a touch of tobacco. The palate is fresh, sleek and succulent with ripe red fruits, wild herbs and spicy notes. It has crisp acidity, good structure and length and will gain in complexity over the two to three years and will reach its peak in 2021. Eric Asimov of the New York Times recently wrote of La Coudraye: “It’s juicy and spicy, easy to drink, yet lovely, with clear personality and character. When wine writers talk of the Loire’s great values, they mean wines like this.” And for all of $29 – what more can one ask?
Serve this wine at 16˚ in Burgundy stems to bring out its beautiful aromatics. This is a fresh, savoury, lip-smacking wine that bursts with energy and goes perfectly with a juicy pepper crusted rib eye steak.