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.

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