Showing posts with label Soucherie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soucherie. Show all posts

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chaume Sweet Chaume

Chaume Sweet Chaume

Chateau Soucherie Coteaux du Layon Chaume, 2010 France, 12%

Soucherie in the summer of 2013
A remarkable wine, according to reliable French guide Hachette. But we rarely see the sweet Coteaux du Layon wines here in Ireland. I bought a box in the Chateau Soucherie in the western Loire in 2013 and just finished the last bottle!

Harvested from 70 year old Chenin blanc grapes, it is a gem, a gem “with dainty fresh magic” according to Guide Hachette.  This golden coloured wine has delicious gentle aromas, including hints of mango. The palate is rich, full and smooth, concentrated, balanced so without too much sweetness. A perfect sweet wine for your dessert and Very Highly Recommended.

And perfect too as an aperitif. It has been going well here the past few days, matching brilliantly with Almond and Pistachio Nougat by Miena, perfect with the Christmas cake (a light one) and with the Panatone, and I particularly enjoyed it with the Pisachio baklava (from Cork’s Sultan’s Delights).

The vineyard in Soucherie does not use chemicals, herbicides or synthetic fertiliser.

You may read some background here on these sweet wines and see how the morning mists that rise from the river Layon in late summer promote the development of botrytis (noble rot) – an essential ingredient in the finest Coteaux du Layon Chaume wines. And see too how the grapes are hand-picked in a number of sweeps, explaining to some degree why the wines are expensive.

Indeed, the methods used here are much the same as in Sauternes. I know that Karwig Wines give the wines of Bergerac (including the sweet Monbazillac) shelf space to compete with their Bordeaux neighbours but I don't think many Irish importers do so.  And often it seems as if Sauternes is king, the one and only.

And it is a shame that the impression gets around because there are so many more sweet wines available, including the magnificent Tokaji from Hungary and some terrific examples from Australia and elsewhere. 

But even in France itself, you have the aforementioned Monbazillac, Beaumes de Venise, Rasteau, Jurancon, Banyul, Muscat de Rivesaltes, Bonnezeaux (also in the Loire), and so many more. Even in Bordeaux, you've got Barsac (linked with Sauternes) and, a little further away, Tour de Calens.

These wines vary a bit so you'll have to do some research! Still, if you're looking for a classic, why not try a Chaume?

  • Sauternes has a long head-start. In 1790, Thomas Jefferson ordered thirty dozen bottles of Yquem for George Washington and himself.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Really Old Vines and just about old vines! From the Loire.

Really Old Vines and just about old vines! From the Loire.

Have been doing a bit of work (drinking!) on the subject of old vines and, in general, it seems that, other things being equal, it is worthwhile paying something of a premium for the wines from the gnarled old vines. With that in mind, why not try a few and compare them with a regular wine from the same vineyard, which is often possible. I’ve been doing that over the years and have regularly come down on the side of the wine from the older plantings.

But what is old? Twenty five years, fifty years. The experienced wine commentator Mary Dowey reckons it has to be “forty years at least” and cautioned that not all varieties benefit from age. “It doesn’t do anything for Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot but Grenache is well suited.” The main benefit is an “intensity of flavour, really concentrated”. 
Pony on left is not interested in wine!
Vignes Centenaire de Minière, Bourgueil 2009, 13.5%, €19.00 at the château.
Colour is a dark ruby and the aromas are of dark fruit. It is refreshing and concentrated, with a strong element of dark fruit flavours; it is smooth, rich with hints of spice and has an excellent dry finish.

The local pony club, at least the adults on the party, were finishing an outdoor tasting when we pulled into sunny Chateau de Minière in the heart of the Bourgueil appellation last summer. After a pleasant hour, maybe two, we finished off our tasting under the shady trees with this wine made from the local stalwart, Cabernet Franc. Loved it then and love it now.

The fruit comes from vines that average more than 100 years old and it has spent two years in oak. The grapes are hand harvested and hand sorted, all under the direction of wine-maker Eric Goujat. Belgian couple, Kathleen and Sigurd, took over the chateau a few years back and have the vineyard in conversion to organic, a process that is almost complete.

Wines that are labelled VieillesVignes (generally more than 30 years old) can command a premium. This is the château’s most expensive wine but worth it, I think. Not all  vines are suitable for long age but Cabernet Franc seems to do well on it in this area!

In the cool cellars of Montplaisir (Chinon)
Domaine de L’Abbaye Vieilles Vignes Chinon 2008, 12.5%, €7.50 at Cave Montplaisir in Chinon.

Aromas of pepper and spices and dark berries are a feature here. On the palate it is refreshing and fruity, with engaging fruit flavours and a lingering dry finish. A very Cabernet Franc and good value too, at least in France!

According to the current World Atlas of Wine, the wines of Chinon are “absurdly undervalued”. That opinion is reinforced by the quality and price of this bottle.

The vines are single varietal Cabernet Franc over 35 years old. It is aged in the cellars in oak barrels for about 12 months depending on the vintage. 

Find out more here 

Anjou Blanc Vieille Vignes 2009, €15.00 at Chateau Soucherie
A tasting at Chateau Soucherie saw us start with two classy wines, the Anjou Blanc Vielles Vignes 2009 and the more expensive Savennières Clos des Perrières 2010. Could have spent more time with these two but, on the initial tasting, put my money on the Vieilles Vignes (and even more of it on the Chaume that we came to later on).

The Vieilles Vignes was another winner  for the old vine brigade. “A unique wine from vines of more than 80 years, rich and round, delicious as an accompaniment to veal stew.”

Probably should have bought more of it as, on our way out to the car in the baking parking area, we were told that the 80 year old plants had been dug up and this was the last of the old stuff! So, if you do come across it, do buy some and include one or two for me! I have none left now and indeed I seem to have mislaid my notes on it. But it was a beautiful well balanced wine, another confirmation for me that wines from old wines are worth exploring!

You may check out the Château’s tasting notes (by Olivier Poussier, once voted the Best Sommelier in the World!) here.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sweet Wines of Layon, Super Salads in Rose City and the Belt of the Virgin

Day 10

Sweet Wines of Layon, Super Salads in Rose City and the Belt of the Virgin
On the Layon trail
We enjoyed a super tasting at Chateau Soucherie this afternoon, the highlight of which, for me, was the Coteaux du Layon Chaume 2010. Sweet, not sticky, and with excellent acidity, this was unbelievable. 
Looking down on the Layon valley from Soucherie
Think I’ll just give you the notes of Olivier Poussier, who is passionate about the world of wine, from the chateau’s website. After 20 years of work and passion, he became Best Sommelier of the World in October 2000 in Montreal .

“A beautiful golden yellow colour. The nose shows very ripe white fruits with a touch of baked apple, juicy Comice pear. A touch of quince jam highlighted by the spice. Botrytis vector is present with a beautiful nobility. Wine is coated with a noble woody giving it a shade toffee. All concentrated tonic but both with a hint of volatility. mouth is wide and smooth without excess sugar, nice acid tension gives this wine focused a great drinkability. "
Chateau Soucherie
We started with two classy wines, the Anjou Blanc Vieilles Vignes 2009 and the more expensive Savennières Clos des Perrières 2010. Could have spent more time with these two but, on the initial tasting, put my money on the Vielles Vignes and even more of it on the Chaume.
Promise of good things to come at Soucherie
We had arrived at the same time as a small group of French visitors and the receptionist very kindly added us to that group and kept us up to date with a few words of English as we walked around the exterior, overlooking the Layon valley, before entering the much cooler tasting room. They make quite a few wines here, growing many varieties including Gamay and Chardonnay, and we tasted quite a few.

The vineyards, we were told, are 90 per cent organic and all the vineyard work (the stripping, the budding, and tying the harvest) is manual. They still manage to produce somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 bottles per annum.
Salad of fried ham!
 We were dawdling through the Anjou country side this morning and it took us quite a while to get to the vineyard. On of the villages we stopped off in was Le Puy Notre Dame. In the Middle Ages, throngs of pilgrims came to the 13th century church in the village to venerate the Virgin Mary’s belt, which is seen in a glass case in the old church.
Pork Belly Salad (is that a song title?)
And we made a stop at the Town of the Roses for lunch. Not that we saw too many roses in Doue La Fontaine though there was no shortage of flowers.  We settled on the Brasserie-Saladerie L’Ardoise for lunch and got two lovely salads for less than a tenner each. CL enjoyed her grilled Ham salad (3 huge slices) while I tucked enthusiastically in to my Salad of Rillauds Chauds (hot Pork belly). The coffee machine broke down just as we ordered a couple of cups and we were offered a drink instead but, with the tasting on the horizon, declined. Nice of them, though.
The belt of the Virgin,