Moulin Touchais, Coteaux du Layon 1960

1960 Moulin Touchais

1960 Moulin Touchais, Coteaux du Layon

By the simple expedient of ignoring Sheila’s, “things to do list”,  I found a moment recently to rummage through the old wine cellars here at Le Clos des Guyons, only to stumble across a bottle of Moulin Touchais’ Coteaux du Layon 1960 lying in the sand, which I had completely forgotten about – what a great moment!

To give you some background the Vignoble Touchais is a unique winery with the bulk of the wine of no great prestige with much of it being sold for the normal range of Anjou wine and much of the “Chenin” going to the large sparkling wine houses in Saumur.  But there is one continual high-spot in that the grapes from the best vineyards, mainly around nearby Tigné, where the French actor Gerald Depardieu has a long established estate and Martigné-Briand, are used to make the unique cuvée “Moulin Touchais” and these are aged for 10 years before release, making sure that they are perfect for drinking.

The winery was founded in 1787 and the Doué la Fontaine based Loire Valley wine producer is only about a five minute drive out of Doué la fontaine and has been in the Touchais family for several generations.  The winery is now managed by Jean-Marie Touchais whose father, Joseph, really established the practice of aging the sweet wines for a minimim of ten years  before putting them on the market, partly because, at the time, they were difficult to sell.  There are several hundred thousand bottles in their cellars in Doué.  You may well find wine from this era also labelled Anjou because Joseph thought that people in the UK wouldn’t know anything about le Coteaux de Layon. The other bizarre fact is that all Moulin Touchais are sold in bottles of 73cl. not the normal 75cl.

We were very keen to try it and decided  to have it with our last Galette de Rois of the year shared with friends, what better excuse! (lost count of these this year but have the extra kilos to show for it)!

And so, onto the wine:-  The colour is a rich gold and the first thing that hits you is the mineral feel of the Chenin.  When young, Chenin has vibrant fruit flavours but an aged Chenin develops these complex, mineral notes which are quite difficult to describe.  There is a clear hint of “rancio” and more than passing notes of rich sherry-like flavours.  Caramel developed in the mouth.   The sweetness was not as intense as you would expect from the great Layons particularly those of Bonnezeaux, Chaume or Quart de Chaume and that is clearly not the intention as apparently 20% of the grapes are picked quite early to ensure the acidity.  The rest is  late harvested and I couldn’t find any hint of noble rot.  The overall effect is, despite it’s age, a fresh rather than an intense Layon (or at least as fresh as a 53 year old wine can be)!  It had a good length with a pleasant burst of citron on the finish in fact the vibrant acidity helped to give it a much more youthful feel despite the aged Chenin and sherry, (Orloroso).  In summary it was not the intense Layon which we have come to expect, but perhaps an example of an older, softer style of Anjou winemaking when things were simpler, (natural fermentation, no oak etc).  A surprising amount of acidity which was certainly beneficial and probably reflects the year; 1960 wasn’t an specially warm year, and the grapes would therefore have retained a lot of acidity. Of course with a wine of 53 years it is almost impossible to do a direct comparison with younger wines especially as Chenin develops a total different character after it has cast off its youthful exuberance.

The wine is naturally fermented, a temperature controlled cool ferment in concrete, epoxy lined tanks and bottled  in the April following the vintage.  Moulin Touchais sees no oak.

Jean Marie Touchais has said that their 2003 will be released this year  – can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle of this given that 2003 was a distinguished year.  Although the extreme heat, (15,000 French people died of heat related illnesses), did lead to a certain lack of acidity, it will be a very interesting tasting.

Wishing you all a ‘bonne semaine’ .  As I went for my walk this morning to the café/bar, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and I could feel Spring in the air!  Two red squirrels shot across the courtyard and everywhere felt good.

à bientôt

Brian

Wine Tours and Holiday Lets in the Loire Valley.

Brian

“27TH SALON DES VINS DE LOIRE” 4/5/6 FEBRUARY 2013

Salon de Vins 2013

le Salon des Vins 2013 in Angers

Since 1987 the Loire Valley wines have been having their own Trade fair held at the beginning of each year at the Parc d’Expositions in Angers.  The exhibition is for the main players in the world of wine and so this Loire Valley exhibition is a must and we never miss it!!

The “Salon des Vins du Val de Loire “ is the largest wine fair in France, which is dedicated to the wines of a single region.  It is an out and out exceptional wine event showcasing the rich mosaic of Lore Valley terroirs  with some 9,000 visitors – 13% from abroad, all visiting the 600 stands held by winegrowers, négociants – éleveurs (negociants who also age wines) and cooperatives to discover the wealth of styles and regions.

With an Oceanic from Nantes inland to Anjou, the climate becomes more continental from Saumur onwards, increasingly so further east through Touraine and the Central Region.  However, the Loire and its tributaries play a moderate role by creating a succession of microclimates in which the vine can thrive.  The different varietals to be found in the vineyards are all perfectly suited to their terroirs and to the northerly climate of the Loire Valley.  Some like Sauvignon, Chenin, Grolleau and Romorantin are native to the area but others have been imported at various times from other regions of France and have become acclimatized so they all contribute to the quality and originality of Loire Valley wines, an example is the Melon de Bourgogne which was originally from Burgandy but which is now the mainstay of Muscadet.  The Salon includes wines from such terroirs from almost the whole of its 635 mile length and it is this which makes it such a delight; you can taste the best wines without driving the length of the Loire!

Salon de Vins 2003

A wine lover’s heaven.

Wine Tasting

Me with my nose stuck into a glass of Saumur-Puy Notre Dame.

Immediately after the entrance, was the Salon designated for the degustations of the majority of exhibitors.  Sheila and I separated to focus each on our own agendas and to try our own particular favourites in more detail. It’s an opportunity to see who is doing good things and spotting new talents but mainly this is the chance to improve your knowledge and get to grips with the appellations.

We are both Layon admirers and Sheila was excited about the Bonnezeaux from Chateau de Fesles in Thouarce (all wine buffs know this domain is generally regarded as  the Queen of the Layon). Another of her favourite appellations is Sancerre and an old and much respected friend is the Domaine Henri Pellé (le roi de Sancerre).  Making wine not just in Sancerre; “Henri  Pellé is Menetou-Salon’s finest producer,” a  statement made  by Robert Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide, 6th edition. Sadly Henry Pellé has now passed on and the Domaine which dates back to 1959, the time of the creation of the Menetou-Salon appellation, (although the family have been making wine in the region since long before that). Now the Domaine remains in the hands of Henry’s descendants  having been passed down at least two generations. The current incumbent is Anne Pellé, the widow of Eric Pellé – Henry’s son – who died in 1995, and she runs the estate with the assistance of her own son Paul-Henry. Anne takes on much of the sales and marketing side of the business, whilst Paul-Henry is in charge of winemaking, with consultation from oenologist Julien Zernott. Together they are responsible for approximately one-quarter of the output of the Menetou-Salon appellation.

Bob and Henri Pellé

Our friend Bob, who helps with our wine tours, with the excellent Sancerre from Domaine Pellé

Tasting excercise completed, we moved on to the Grand Palais where individual producers have their stands.  After much walking, we met Jean Noel of the Domaine du Petite Clocher, in Clere sur Layon, a little village in which we used to live and so of special interest, and the perfect evocation of the “douceur Angevine”.  This is a family Domaine of 80 hectares at the source of the Layon, of four generations of winemakers with a strong passion for the wine and they offer a mighty full range . Their Coteaux du Layons are exceptional and  the Coteau du Layon Perrieres – with an expression of the schistous soil, and its powerful and balanced exotic aromas are highly recommended.  Their Coteaux du Layon Prestige, however, which is wine harvested only in exceptional vintages, is the quintessence of the terrain.  Their range of blancs are excellent too with the supple and fruity Chardonnay, exuberant aromatic Sauvignon with hints of mint are excellent.  The Anjou Rouge won the medaillé argent and is a classic example of Anjou Cabernet Franc with a subtleness which belies it’s up-front flavours.

Jean Noel Denis

Jean Noel Denis from le Petit Clocher with his award winning Anjou Rouge.

What is a really impressive area is the “Salon de Ligeres” where all the gold medal winners are arrayed and available for tasting.  This is the perfect way to taste the best of the entries from the breath of Loire wine. Just to mention a few from my notes, the many which really impressed me were:-

Muscadet: Huteau Boulanger (Moulin Camus):- Apples and pears on the nose with lovely tart fruit in the mouth.

“Caves des Vignerons de Saumur” (our local co-operative situated 11 km from Saumur in Saint Cyr with its maze of 8 km of underground galleries) has made immense strides in the past few years.  Their Saumur Blanc is a classic; white fruit on the nose with a hint of honey and in the mouth a glorious taste of grapefruit sorbet.  The Coteaux de Saumur from the same producer is everything which this appellation should be:- exotic fruit, waxy honey and, in the mouth, it is lifted by a lovely burst of acidity.

“Caves de Grenelle” gorgeous Crémant de Loire, golden green colour, toasty on the nose with a grapefruit finish and very well balanced.

Sancerre: Michelle et Sylvain Lerredde 2012:- Fresh, grassy and a hint of pineapples, lovely and fresh in the mouth with nicely balanced acidity.

Salon de Vins, Angers 2003

The Salon de Ligeres where you can taste all the Gold medal winners

And on to wines which I know very well from our village of Le Puy Notre Dame.

Saumur-Champigny from the biodynamic vineyard La Domaine de la Paleine.  Marc Vincent purchased a couple of héctares of vineyard in Champigny several years ago and the 2010 has won a multitude of awards.  It’s a deep ruby colour, full of red and black fruits with a hint of violets, in the mouth it has the same ripe fruit, a hint of pepper and a huge length with attractive, soft tannin. This year their 2011 won the médaillé D’or!  They also picked up Argent for the Rigoletto 2011, a Saumur Blanc and the Coteaux de Saumur 2010 and a Bronze for their Saumur Puy Notre Dame 2010 and 2011. Bravo!!! Whilst on the stand Monsieur Vincent offered a tasting of his 2009 Costa Diva, being a deep and complex wine, toasty oak on the nose and a lovely buttercup colour, complex, a long length and very worthy of its price!

La Domaine de l’Enchantoir won medaillé D’or for our village appellation of ”Saumur-Puy Notre Dame’, their 2011 is a wonderfully expressive wine clearly showing the reduced yield. warm, ripe and very herby with a distinct hint of rosemary.  Brigitte et Pierre van den Boom, from Belgium,  has been making wine for a relatively short period of time but their dedication and attention to detail has been highly rewarded by a succession of awards.

I would like to give more information on my tasting notes but sadly time does not permit.

Saumur Champigny from Domaine de la Paleine

The stunning Saumur Champigny from la Domaine de la Paleine

It was a great day meeting up with many wine making friends and we have to make a special mention to our new friends Sigurd and Kathleen Mareels-Van den Berghe at Chateau de Miniere in Bourgeil who have 18 hectares of vineyards spread over the entire terroir of the Bourgeil appellation, overlooking the valley. It was so nice to meet you Kathleen and Sigurd, congratulations on your exemplary Bourgeuil!  I am sure we will see you again.

Even though it had been a very long day, we still felt on leaving that we had ran short of time! The Loire Valley certainly has a diverse range of wines and bravo to all the various players in the region’s wine industry!

We found plenty of new discoveries and we will certainly be recommending them to our visitors at Le Clos des Guyons this year because we love to share our knowledge with our guests!

Take a look at our website www.closdesguyons.com and view our charming self-catering accommodation and wine tour holidays in the magical Loire Valley in France, where we offer relaxing holidays for our clients, combined

Le Clos des Guyons

XVIIIth. Century gateway to our accommodation in Le Puy Notre Dame

with a fully escorted wine tour and tutored tasting if you wish. We are offering weekly Spring breaks during March and April, which includes a three course meal on your arrival! Alternatively, if you are short on time, we provide half or full day wine tours and tutored tastings without accommodation if you are just visiting in the area.

A votre!  Brian and Sheila