Chinon: The Vienne, the old town and the château
On Friday the French Government made it official: eight new communes to the west of the Chinon on the south bank of the River Vienne will join the Chinon appellation from the 2016 vintage.
Ironically some if not all of these eight communes – Brizay, Candes-Saint-Martin, Chinais, Couziers, Lerné, Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, Seuilly and Thizay – could have been part of AC Chinon when it was set up in 1937 as this part of Indre-et-Loire is a westward extension of the clay limestone terroir of the south bank of the Vienne – see Ligré, for example.
Apparently, however, the opportunity was turned down because the various communes’ mayors believed that becoming part of this new set up would mean higher taxes.
It was the lunatic and yet to be implemented reform of Appellation Touraine that pushed these eight communes to apply to be included within the Chinon appellation. The Touraine reforms ban 100% Cabernet Franc and 100% Chenin, which may just conceivably make sense in the Cher Valley east of Tours but certainly makes no sense at the western end of Indre-et-Loire. As Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc are the grapes of choice in these eight communes as they are in this part of the Loire, these producers were left as orphans faced with the prospect of selling their wines as IGP Val de Loire or as Vin de France.
I suspect that François Rabelais, the patron saint of these parts, would have appreciated this delicious absurdity. I am all in favour of a sensibly drafted appellation system but this Touraine reform is just idiotic micro-management. Not, however, as insane as ‘Brexit’….
It was back in March 2014 that the Chinon producers kindly extended a life-line to the eight orphans accepting their application in principle. There then followed four years of studies with the successful conclusion announced last Friday.
It is only eight kilometres from Seuilly to Chinon and 12 from Lerné but it has taken all of 79 years to get there….
Jean-Martin Dutour (Baudry-Dutour) and president of the Chinon producers