Les 5 du Vin

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79 years from Lerné to Chinon

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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





Auteur : Les 5 du Vin

Journalistes en vin

9 réflexions sur “79 years from Lerné to Chinon

  1. One might argue that the AOC status is so important that it can take much time and thinking over before it is granted, add the complexity of the terroir, the simplicity of politics, le principe de précaution,festina lente, better late than sorry, ad-Vienne que pourra, etc, etc… These are deep waters, you know.
    Just joking…
    The analogy with Brexit is a good one, since it took 43 years for a majority of Brits to realise they did not want to be members of the EU after all. OK, bad joke again…


  2. More to the point, Jim: have you ever tasted wines from these 8 communes: are the wines any good? Different to Chinon? What changes will it mean for the producers in terms of vinification?


    • Hervé – the domaine that I know best from these eight communes is Château du Petit Thouars in Saint-Germain. Their structured wines are very good, very reasonably priced and we have bought from the domaine on a number of occasions. They are a quality addition to the Chinon canon.

      As Luc points out these new communes are not on sand or gravel but from the clay limestone slopes that form part of the appellation on both sides of the River Vienne. if you want to make direct comparisons it makes sense to compare like with like eg those from sandy soils.


  3. How long does it take to grow a moustache like yours, Jim?
    Hervé, in earnest, do you think there is such a thing as a typical red Chinon to compare with?
    The river banks of the Vienne themselves are rather steep, whereas a large part of the appellation (directed towards the Loire) lies on mild slopes. The soils are different as well: gravels and stones (alluvial) on top of limestone here, but rocks from the Jurassic period there. And some rather sandy parts as well.
    Finally, large differences in style among the growers. I used to drink a lot of Ch. de Ligré stuff (M. Ferrand and Mme are charming people), some Olga Raffault’s wines, Clos de l’Echo, Baudry … All very good but all vastly dissimilar.
    Can we agree on that?


  4. Luc, when you retire (as late as possible), as Coordinator of this uncoordinated blog, I will ask you to write a book on typicity (concept & illustration). Unless you prefer to write a book on dark matter, for obvious reasons of easier access to evidence.


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