Thursday, 30 October 2008

October Harvest & Loire Wine Tours - News

Today 30th October 2008 French wine producers are protesting about the 1991 "Loi Evin" which prevents the placing of wine advertising in or on certain media. It remains unclear whether French wine makers can promote their wine on the internet or not! Why ? Because the law was created before the internet. So the internet was never listed as a media that the wine producers could advertise on. So there remains today a discrepancy as to whether producers can advertise on the internet or not. Puts into question freedom of information and speech and is without doubt another example of archaic french bureaucracy.

In the meantime here are some highlights from our own “non-commercial” harvest and some goings on during the month of October at La Grande Maison.

Hand harvesting and the first to be picked were the whites - chenin blanc. After the machine harvester has been through the vineyards we are allowed to go and hand harvest what is left. Call it gleaning, call it what you like, the result is about 80 kg’s of sweet white grapes that we then press on the stem by foot to produce about 40 litres of juice which is currently fermenting nicely in our caves.

A week or so later after the reds have been machine harvested we pick about the same quantity of cabernet franc. This time the grapes are de-stemmed and crushed gently under foot. The grapes are then left in contact with the skins to macerate. We use a tiny amount of sulphur just to prevent oxidisation and a little yeast to get the fermentation going. The legs aren't bad either.

Yet another week into October and we join Jacky and Veronqiue for their family harvest at Domaine des Noades. Here we are having a break after picking late harvest chenin “botrytis” for the Coteaux de Saumur. This is then machine pressed in a Vaslin pressed back at the domaine and followed by a large four course lunch and lot’s of wine. If you would like to join the harvest for a day next year just let us know.

Earlier in October Sue and her Wine Tour group found Eddie Oosterlink in his winery in Faye d'Anjou with a basket press exuding chenin blanc juice. At 13.5% potential alcohol this is destined to become on of Domaine de Juchpie's dry chenins.It flowed continually during our rendez-vous, tasting within earshot of the sound of running juice was a constant reminder of the patience needed to produce wines of this calibre.

On the south to south-west facing slatey hillside where there is always a westerly breeze the botrytised chenin are yet to be harvested. In 2004, for Les Quarts, the vendage wasn't completed until November 11th, the numerous successive pickings resulted in a yield of just 10-15hl/ha. Le Passion 2004 was an incredible low 5-10hl/ha.The range of noble wines are all honeyed and luscious with sufficient grapefruit zest acidity to leave a refreshed palate. There is also a delicious passerillage 2003. The two dry wines are produced from low yields, just 30hl/ha.With only 6ha under vine and a mere 800 cases produced per annum these are wines well worth the hunt.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

La Grande Maison Wine Tours B&B Blogspot is back Online!

Highlights from September 2008

The vines are now heavy with grapes and it is a wonderfully colourful time to come to the Loire Valley Vineyards. By mid-September the harvest has started and it will go on until early November when the late harvest “botrytis” grapes will be hand picked. The machine harvest around Le Puy Notre Dame started this year on the 19th September. Hand picking of the chenin blanc and chardonnay also started for the Cremant de la Loire.

The AOC white grapes of the area are the Chenin Blanc which makes excellent whites ranging from the sparkling methode traditionelle through dry whites to the great sweet wines of the area.

The AOC red grapes of the area are the Cabernet Franc known also as the Breton and brought to the region in the 1920’s by Antoine Cristal. The grape is deeper, darker and richer than cabernet sauvignon but also has a delightfully mouthwatering perfume. Usual characteristics are a flavour of raspberries and blackcurrant.

A good indication that the grapes are ready (along with using the refractometer) is that Willow will start to nibble them! So I guess these must be good....

A visit to Domaine aux Moines in Savennieres with Tessa Laroche who takes us out to the vineyard to test the potential alcohol in the grapes and then back to the winery to do a vertical tasting of their whites from 1992 to 2006. You can read Richard Kelly’s review of the Domaine and his vertical tasting by following this link :