1964, 1971 and 1974 Domaine Couly-Dutheil Chinon


During my June stay in Burgundy, I visited a friend in Beaune for supper. Rather than pouring Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, he served exceptional mature Loire wines from his personal cellar that all made a big impression. Whilst these wines are not catnip to investors, they do have a well-deserved cult following that is growing every year as their quality becomes better known. The centrepiece was three magnums of Chinon from Domaine Couly-Dutheil from the sixties and seventies. They were made by René Couly, born in Corrèze, who was apparently a cousin of the Moueix family in Pomerol. Couly was assisted by his son Pierre who began working alongside his father in 1959. I could not find any mention of their famous monopole, Le Clos de l’Echo, on the label, so I presume these would be considered their “entry” Chinons. 

The highlight was the oldest, a 1964 Chinon. Deep in colour, it offers a potent, delineated bouquet with a mixture of red and black fruit, scents of pitted black olives and a light boot polish aroma. The palate is very intense and packed with fruit after 57-years, mulberry and cranberry intermingling with black olive, Japanese nori and subtle spicy notes towards the finish. There is a rondeur to this 1964 that I adore, and strangely, it reminds me of some Burgundy wines from this vintage as it manifests more red fruits with aeration. It is simply heavenly. 96/Drink 2021-2034.

Two other magnums are served. The 1971 Chinon shows little ageing on the rim. The nose is utterly sublime, with black fruit, pressed iris, touches of brine and potpourri. The palate is beautifully balanced, supple and slightly bitter towards the elegant finish, perhaps without the weight of the 1964. Maybe the 1964 has more chutzpah by comparison, but this remains a beautiful mature Chinon with bags of life left. 93/Drink 2021-2028. Finally, a magnum of the 1974 Chinon. Deep in colour with just a slight turbidity, it sports a marine-scented nose, almost briny with touches of ink and incense, gaining intensity with each swirl of the glass. Medium-bodied, it offers crunchy black fruit with just the right amount of bitterness, hints of green olive furnishing the finish. The 1974 decays quicker than the 1964 or 1971, flagging after 20 minutes, yet is probably more enjoyable than most Bordeaux or Burgundy you might find in this challenging growing season. 90/Drink 2021-2025.