Les 5 du Vin

5 journalistes parlent du vin

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Langeais: the inauguration of Bourgueil’s Maison des Vins

The new Maison des Vins, 15 Rue Gambetta, Langeais 

Maison des Vins just a few paces from the Château de Langeais


 The inauguration celebrations 

@Château de Langeais 13.6.2018

(above and below)


Appellation Bourgueil’s second Maison des Vins was officially inaugurated last night at a ceremony in the courtyard of the Château de Langeais. Fortunately after a series of late afternoon/early evening downpours recently the weather was well-behaved with the guests regaled with warm sunshine.  (More below)

La Maison des Vins 

The original Maison des Vins de Bourgueil, which opened in 1992, remains in the centre of Bourgueil, while the new Maison des Vins is a stone’s throw from the château, which had 110,000 visitors in 2017. The Langeais’ Maison, which opened for business on Monday 4th June, carries some 180 different references from Bourgueil. These are mainly red but with some red as well as a few whites – both still and sparkling – made from Chenin Blanc grown within the aire de l’appellation of Bourgueil.

Vins de Graviers

Vins de Tuffeau

Visitors to the new Maison will be able to buy a glass and taste a range of 12 wines, which will be rotated through the year. These will be served from a modern dispenser that keeps the wines fresh.    


The tasting dispenser
(above and below)

A rosé being dispensed 

Visitors and staff in the Maison 

The Inauguration

Alexis Caraux, the new director of Vins de Bourgueil 


 Philippine Delachaux, the vice-president of Vins de Bourgueil

Pierre-Alain Roiron, maire de Langeais, in full flow

The inauguration

The proceedings were introduced by Alexis Caraux, the new director of Vins de Bourgueil, and continued with a speech from the Vice-President of the Bourgueil producers.  

There had been a previous joint-venture proposed between Bourgueil and Montlouis to set up a Maison des Vins in Tours but this fell through.


I hope the new Maison des Vins will be a success. It has an attractive modern look and is very close to the château, so ought to attract a good number of visitors. We spent between 30 and 40 minutes in the Maison and were impressed by the level of knowledge shown by the staff. I understand that at least some of them are, for the moment, on short-term contracts that takes them to the end of the summer. 

If this new Maison des Vins is a success then InterLoire might be persuaded to venture back into this sector of oenotourism. In June 2015 InterLoire’s four Maison des Vins – Tours, Saumur, Angers, Nantes – closed following the need for the organisation to make sharp economies due to a financial crisis.      


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A day of combatting esca

Several infected vines

Vines affected by esca – note the loss of leaves and the shrivelled grapes:
September 2017 (above and immediately below)

Dying vine

Boris & progress of esca

Boris Desbourdes, Domaine de la Marinière, Chinon  – shows
the progress of esca through a trunk of a vine 

Last Tuesday (5th June 2018) I was invited on a day-long press trip to learn more about the fungal vine disease, esca, and the methods used to combat or alleviate it.

Esca is a major problem causing a significant proportion of vines to die every year. Annual mortality estimates vary from around 2% to 10% or more. This depends upon a number of factors including the year and the stress the vines are under as well as the grape variety. Worryingly for the Loire, especially Touraine and the Central Vineyards, Sauvignon Blanc is particularly susceptible to the disease.

There are numerous initiatives now underway to combat and to eventually find a solution. These initiatives put the vignerons at centre of the research. Unfortunately it is currently not known what has triggered esca – what the causes are. There are a number of theories – nurseries supplying below quality plants, excessive use of chemicals weakening/ killing off the micro-organisms around the roots, errors in pruning etc. There may, of course, not be one factor but a whole number of them.

Until 2001 arsénite de sodium was used to control esca. I understand that it wasn’t a cure but helped to keep esca under control. In 2001 it was banned because it caused a number of cancers, especially amongst vineyard workers.

Esca is a fungal disease that apparently works it way down the trunk of a vine until it eventually cuts off the supply of sap which is carried up by two ‘arteries’. Once this happens the vine dies very quickly – like a human hit by a stroke.


Methods of combatting/alleviating the disease


Curetage – the most dramatic method


Job done – diseased wood cut out and trunk exposed to the air

There are a number of methods being used to fight/ alleviate esca. The main methods include taking care when pruning of the flow of a vine’s sap, complantation, curetage, regraftinging and replanting.

During visits last Tuesday to two domaines – Domaine de la Marinière (Chinon) and Domaine de Lavigne we were shown three different techniques –recépage, curetage and regrafting.

Curetage is the most dramatic as it involves using a small power saw to cut out the diseased parts of the vine’s trunk. See the demonstration by Boris Desbourdes in the photos above. The second photo shows that the diseased wood has been cut away and the fungus exposed to the air, which kills it. Clearly this technique, which was trialled in Sancerre, requires considerable skill and a steady hand.  It would only take a slight slip and your vine would be decapitated…


Complantation-detailRecépage – detail

This is a technique that is quite widely used in Champagne. It involves using a branch from the base of the vine just above the graft and training it to replace the existing trunk. This procedure can then be repeated at regular intervals.




Thomas Chassaing with graft and a dead vine trunk

Preparing the graft

Preparing the vine graft


Thomas cutting just above the rootstock graft

Graft base

After cutting the base for the graft

Inserting the graft

Two grafts

Two grafts – just to make doubly sure

Two grafts - detail
Two grafts – detail

In Saumur we saw an example of regrafting performed by Thomas Chassaing of the Chambre d’agriculture du Maine et Loire. Chassaing showed us several different ages of graft. He was keen to stress the advantages of regrafting in comparison  to grubbing up dead vines and replanting. He argued persuasively that by using regrafting that the vine returned to production much earlier and was much cheaper.

Chassaing and his charts showed that using regrafting would put your vine back in full production after two years compared to seven to nine years if you replanted. At six years for a replanted vine you could expect to harvest 10 bunches of grapes compared to 27 for regrafting – ‘seems far too high to me’ if you are looking for quality.

Importantly costs ranged from 2.97€ to 4.02€ for regrafting instead of 9.87€ to replant. Chassaing explained that once a producer had a 40% grafting success rate this is breakeven point,



Comparison of costs between replanting and regrafting

It will be fascinating to follows the combat against esca. Will there be a cure of will it be a question of choosing one or two strategies seeking to limit the effects of esca.

A suivré……













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2018 Loire Millésime – some thoughts on the second edition

The second edition of Loire Millésime was based in Blois and ran from Sunday 22nd to 25th April. In all some 70 journalists were invited from around the world with a strong contingent from North America. 

Visits during this second edition naturally focused on appellations to the east of Tours – the various Touraine appellations, especially Oisly, Chenonceaux and Mesland along with Vouvray. Whereas the first edition, based at Fontevraud, focused on Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Chinon and Samur. 


Sunday 22nd April

This second edition opened with a tasting of Loire Chenin Blanc, which was similar in format to that held at the Domaine de Rocheville (Saumur) in 2017. This year it and our other tastings were held in the Château de Blois.

During the tasting there are trays of canapés served with no sit down meal at the end of tasting. A number of the leading producers marking Loire Chenin were present at the tasting. This included Claude Papin, Olivier Lecomte, Patrick Baudouin, Philippe Porché, Joël et Ludovic Gigou, Vincent Lebreton, Tessa Laroche and Alexandre Monmousseau. 

There were many high quality Chenins to taste. It was also a useful reminder of the high average quality of wines from Jasnières and Coteux du Loir. Good to taste a couple of 2017s from Domaine Lelais, which with 14 hectares in Jasnières makes them the largest producer in this small appellation. Unfortunately Lelais lost 50% of their 2016 crop to frost.  

Unfortunately I don’t find grazing on canapés and trying to taste these excellent Loire Chenin Blancs doesn’t really work. I would rather taste without the distraction of food and then eat after the end of the tasting. Given the timing of this evening tasting, leaving eating until the finish of the tasting wasn’t possible unless one was prepared to go hungry as local restaurants would be closing by the end of the event. 

Monday 23rd, Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th April

As it had been in the previous edition the  centrepiece of the 2018 Loire Millésime was the possibility to taste some 700 wines from the 2017, 2016 and 2015 vintages that had been entered into the Le Concours des Vins du Val de Loire. of these 700 wines – 287 had received medals. 

For the whole of Monday (9am-6.30pm) there was the opportunity to taste the 2017 vintage, then Tuesday and Wednesday morning for the 2016 and 2015 wines.

Doubtless it is admirably democratic that those who enter their wines into the Concours get them to be tasted by a global group of journalists as well as providing an incentive to to enter. Unfortunately it is the nature of wine competitions, especially regional ones, that for a variety of reasons the best producers do not enter their wines. Most top producers have already have established reputations and may well be a position to sell more wine than they can make. Furthermore with the 2016 and 2017 frosts in the Loire there is a shortage of stock. 

The result? From the 700 wines there were too few that were good and memorable. The overall quality was significantly below that of the Chenin Blanc tasting on Sunday night. The 2018 Loire Millésime is reported to have cost 140,000€ to stage. It does seem quixotic to fly in journalists from around the world and not show them the wines that you believe are the best the region has to offer. Furthermore it is very likely that it is the region’s best producers who are present on export markets rather than producers who fail to get medals in their regional competition. 

To be fair the Tuesday afternoon trip to Vouvray, which I was not on, did include a visit with Vincent Carême to his vineyard and to the cellars of Domaine Huet, so two leading Vouvray producers. 

Next year’s edition of Loire Millésime will be in the Pays Nantais, I trust that the organisers will have sorted out this problem and will show their guests the very best that the Loire has to offer. One solution would be to show only those wines from the Concours that are awarded medals and to show at the same time a selection from the Loire’s best producers. 

Château de Chambord 


Two spectacular soirées

On Monday and Tuesday we enjoyed to two spectacular soirées: Monday evening at Château de Chambord and Tuesday at Château de Moncontour in Vouvray. On both occasions the weather was perfect. Monday featured wines from the straight Touraine and Touraine Villages appellations, while Tuesday was devoted to négociant and cave co-operative wines. 

 Château Moncontour

Visits to Touraines Oisly, Mesland and Amboise

On Tuesday afternoon I opted to go on the trip to Touraine Oisly. Here the focus was on two types of soil. The first, in the east of the Oisly appellation, had clay and limestone that had degraded to flint. The second was more sandy and had heavier clay making it a colder soil with the possibility of poor drainage during a wet winter. The visit included a tasting of Sauvignon Blancs from both Touraine Chenonceaux and Touraine Oisly. 

The tasting confirmed my overall impression from tasting 2016s from the two appellations  on Tuesday morning that the whites from Chenonceaux are more interesting, complex and varied than those from Oisly, which although in the wines we tasted have rich fruit, they have a tendency to blandness due to their soft finish that lacks vibrancy and punch. 

Wednesday afternoon was taken up with a drive in an iconic Citroen 2CV through the vineyards of Touraine Mesland and Touraine Amboise. The highlights were a tasting of five 100% Côt in a vineyard in the commune of Limeray. If the proposed Cru Amboise goes through the whites will be made only from Chenin Blanc and the reds solely from Côt (Malbec). Of the five the 2015 Prestige de Bessous, 2015 La Griffe d’Isa (Xavier Frissant) and the 2016 Domaine de Grande Foucardière stood out. At the end of our excursion a 1997 late harvest botrytised Touraine Amboise from Domaine de la Gabillière (the Lycée Viticole at Amboise) was a fine treat.  

Unfortunately the visits highlighted the high proportion of vineyards in Touraine that blasted with weedkiller. In some vineyards the destruction is almost total with a trace of biodiversity remaining. It is, however, encouraging that the proposal for the putative cru Amboise includes restrictions on the use of weedkillers. 

 Oisly vineyard completely blitzed by weedkiller

Less life in the soil than in the Gobi Desert?

Ouch! – old Chenin Blanc in a lifeless vineyard 

@Limeray (Amboise)

There should be a law against treating old Chenin like 


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Après les blancs et les rouges, voici les Sancerre rosés

Quant on dit rosé, on pense tout de go à la Provence. Mais cette dernière n’a pas le monopole de la tendre couleur, bien d’autres régions la proposent, comme la Loire. Bien entendu, rien à voir avec la production méditerranéenne, là plus au nord, les équilibres sont quelque peu différents. Et parmi les appellations les plus réputées, choisissons quelques rosés de qualité – pourquoi pas à Sancerre?

Les Sancerre rosés ça existe, certains le savent, d’autres l’ignorent totalement. Pour ces derniers, apprenons-leur qu’ils sont issus du seul cépage Pinot noir en saignée ou en pressurage direct et élevé en cuve inox pour l’extrême majorité. Les sols à dominante calcaire leur génèrent une fraîcheur agréable qui met en évidence un fruité souvent épicé. Tendre, ils plaisent à l’apéritif. Mais nombre d’entre eux offrent suffisamment de densité et de longueur pour se retrouver à table pour bien accompagner une partie du repas ou plus. Ils comblent alors les convives de leurs saveurs délicates offertes sans chichi.

Voici quelques rosés pour le printemps ou l’été…

Et si d’aventure, il vous en restait par après, n’ayez aucune crainte, leur fraîcheur et leur densité leur permettent la garde, comptez une poignée d’années et une belle surprise au bout.


Domaine des Trois Noyers 2016 Sancerre


D’une jolie couleur abricot, il respire la pêche jaune et la mangue avant d’évoquer la framboise et la groseille, un rien de poivre souligne les notes fruitées. La bouche est d’emblée séduite par l’agréable fraîcheur et l’onctuosité de ce rosé délicat. On y retrouve le mélange de fruits jaunes et rouges du nez, épicés cette fois de curcuma. Densité et longueur, mais aussi fruité et fraîcheur, en font un rosé à la fois d’apéritif et de repas.

Ce petit domaine de 8 ha existe depuis 1966 et appartient à la famille Reverdy-Cadet. Il se situe à Verdigny en Sancerre au nord-ouest de Sancerre.


Domaine Michel Vattan 2016 Sancerre


Rose à reflets carmin, au nez de jus de grenade et de cerise sublimés par l’élégance d’un bouton de rose. Quelques senteurs minérales et un rien de fumé s’en exhale aussi. La bouche vineuse plaît tout de go. Sapide et saline, elle nous offre avec délectation un quartier d’orange confite dont l’amertume délectable de l’écorce renforce la fraîcheur. Vient encore une exquise cerise au marasquin poudrée de poivre noir. Un rosé particulier.

Un rosé de pressurage direct.

Le domaine situé à Maimbray, au nord-ouest de Sancerre, existe depuis 1930. En 3 générations, il est passé de 2 ha de polyculture à presque 10 ha de vignes. Initialement propriété de la famille Vattan, la propriété a été reprise en 2008 par Nathalie et Pascal Joulin qui y travaillaient depuis 2002. Leur fils Rémy les seconde aujourd’hui.


Cuvée La Grange Dîmière 2016 Domaine Jean-Max Roger Sancerre


Robe rosée légèrement violacé, parfumée de gelées de framboise, de fraise et de groseille avivée par le trait un rien vanillé du citron vert. La bouche élégante nous fait songer à la fraise des bois et de framboise sauvage rafraîchies de fruit de la passion. Quelques pétales de rose et un brin de lavande ajoutent leur complexité à ce rosé de jolie soif.

Rosé de pressurage direct dont les Pinot Noir viennent des terroirs à silex. L’élevage se fait sur lies fines. La Grange Dîmière fait référence à une ancienne Grange aux Dîmes de Bué qui constitue la partie la plus ancienne du chai de vinification. Bué est le village d’origine de la famille Roger installée là depuis le 17e siècle. Aujourd’hui, le domaine couvre 26 ha en Sancerre. Jean-Max Roger y travaille avec deux de ses trois fils, Etienne et Thibault.

Pascal et Nathalie Joulin et leur fils Rémy photo Jim Bud


Domaine Hubert Brochart 2016 Sancerre


Saumon pâle à l’écaille dorée, il hume les pâtes de fruits rouges où se reconnaissent le melon, l’abricot et la pêche teintés d’écorce de mandarine poivrée. La bouche gourmande savoure le charnu des fruits, se rafraîchit de leur jus, se régale des épices, cumin et paprika, qui le relèvent. Un rosé pour toute occasion.

Rosé de saignée de Pinot Noir qui viennent pour moitié des sols d’argile, le reste des terroirs à silex et des calcaires. Le domaine, créé fin 19e s, s’étend sur plus de 60 ha partagés entre Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé et Vin de Pays.


Duc de Tarente 2016 La Cave des Vins de Sancerre


Rose aux reflets améthyste, nez d’agrume et de fruits rouges qui rappellent le kumquat, le cédrat, la groseille et la framboise avec un rien de sous-bois et de menthe fraîche. Un joli jus coule en bouche. Onctueux, il flatte les papilles par la douceur de sa texture. On y retrouve en pagaille, les fruits sentis. Réglisse et curcuma les soulignent et les font s’incruster dans l’assise minérale. Un rosé sapide et puissant.

Rosé de pressurage direct et élevage en cuve inox.

La Cave des vins de Sancerre, fondée en 1963, est l’unique coopérative de l’appellation Sancerre. Elle se compose de 92 vignerons adhérents répartis sur 12 communes.


La Rabaut 2016 Domaine Joseph Mellot Sancerre


Rose saumoné au nez d’agrumes confits très poivrés complétés de fruits rouges entourés d’un trait de réglisse. La bouche donne l’impression d’être sage, large et ample, bien équilibrée par une vivacité bien intégrée dans la densité fruitée. Cela donne envie aux papilles d’investiguer, de révéler avec plus d’intensité le fruit. Sans détour elles mettent en exergue fraise, grenade, orange sanguine, cerise, …Il leur suffisait d’un rien se concentrer.

Rosé issu de pressurage direct.

La famille Mellot remonte au 16e s, César Mellot était même conseiller pour les vins à la table de Louis XIV. Jadis liés, les Mellot se séparent en 1969. Edmond et Joseph Mellot font alors une scission de la maison Alphonse Mellot. Joseph Mellot reprend la suite du chai et lui donne son propre nom. Aujourd’hui, le domaine compte une bonne centaine d’ha répartis sur les principales appellations de Centre Loire.



Espérons que la saison estivale soit propice à la dégustation de quelques rosés de Sancerre. Frais, bien fruités, souvent vineux, ils peuvent égayer autant les apéros gourmands que les repas d’été.





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2018 Loire Millésime approaches + recently tasted

Surplus to

A leg brace that is now thankfully surplus to requirements

Loch G2

Loch Gynack above Kingussie

when the weather is fine there are compensations
to convalescing in the Scottish Highlands

After spending all of 2018 to date in Newtonmore recovering from my slip on the ice on 2nd January as well as looking after my late mother-in-law, I looking forward to getting back to London this Friday. Then on Sunday I will be meeting up with some of my distinguished colleagues in Blois, including our grand fromage – Hervé –  for the second edition of Loire Millésime.

Last year’s Loire Millésime was held at the Abbaye de Fontevraud. Unfortunately this first edition coincided with some of the successive nights of frost that significantly reduced the 2017 crop for many Loire producers as well as in other parts of France like Bordeaux. Happily the long range forecast up to 30th April predicts that night-time temperatures will be well above freezing, so vignerons should be able to sleep peacefully in their beds.

During my time in Newtonmore I have been tasting some Loire wines, which producers have kindly sent me to ensure that I have not been totally unemployed. These have come from the 2015, 2016 and 2017 vintages – all of which produced some very attractive wines. It has been particularly good to taste some 2017s I was unable to make my customary visit to the Salon des Vins de Loire and its associated tastings. This has confirmed the good impressions that I formed from visits during the harvest.

Here are some recent notes on wines:

2016 Le Petit Clos, Vouvray sec, Bernard Fouquet – Domaine des Aubuisières

This 2016 Vouvray Sec Le Petit Clos from Bernard Fouquet has terrific balance – a lovely blend of ripe fruit with vibrant acidity giving a typical austere Vouvray finish. This comes from a single vineyard with the vines planted on clay limestone. 

The 2016 is drinking well now but clearly has the potential to mature and develop over many years. Demonstration that Bernard Fouquet is among the best producers in Vouvray.   

2015 Jubilation, Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Le Pallet, Les Vignerons du Pallet

2015 Jubilation, Le Pallet, Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Le Pallet

Les Vignerons du Pallet

Le Pallet is one of the three Muscadet Cru Communaux that have been officially ratified (2011), although there are another four waiting to be officially ratified. Jubilation is made by the co-operative Les Vignerons du Pallet. Jubilation was the first of the cru communaux to be awarded a Gold medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards.

This ripe and rich 2015 Jubilation is far from a typical Muscadet Sèvre & Maine that one would typically match with shellfish. The 2015 Jubilation calls for a grilled or sauced fish dish or a chicken dish – either plain or pot roasted.

Still young it will be interesting to see how this 2015 cru develops. Will it gain additional complexity?  


2017 Anjou Rouge Domaine Ogereau – very drinkable


A delightfully drinkable, soft 2017 Anjou Rouge (100% Cabernet Franc) from Domaine Ogereau – one to enjoy now with its fresh, youthful black fruits rather than keep to see how it develops. Better to age the 2017 Anjou Villages, when it is released and which on this evidence should be very promising. 
If I were the Ogereaus I would bottle this in a screwcap as it is ideal to take on a picnic, so that there is no problem if you forget the corkscrew.









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Loire: increased frost protection – inc report from Chinon

Anti-frost wind turbine at Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil 

Paulée Nantaise: October 2017

This April will be a particularly stressful month for many Loire producers: a third consecutive frost would be catastrophic for many growers who were hit by frost in both 2016 and 2017. Fortunately, the weather to date in 2018 has been cold, so bud break should be considerably later than it was in 2016 and 2017, so hopefully less worry. However, bud break was late in 2013, which didn’t prevent some areas being hit by frost late in April.

 Increasingly the Loire is investing in frost protection. This has long been in the case in low lying Quincy, which is very frost prone, with a number of wind turbines as well as other places like Noble Joué and the Clos Roche Blanche in the Cher Valley. Now, however, there is a more of a concerted effort to combat the frost menace. Below there is a press release from Chinon announcing that nearly 50% of areas at risk are now frost protected. Hopefully it will not be too long before all risk areas in the Chinon appellation have some protection. 

 Nearby Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil are also investing in wind turbines in the flatter gravel vineyards – vines on the limestone coteaux are rarely hit by frost. 

 In Muscadet, which was hit by frost in both 2016 and 2017, they are using imaginative ways of raising the necessary funds to invest in frost protection, especially wind turbines. A number of growers paired up with local chefs to hold special wine and food events in their restaurants – Paulée Nantaise – with proceeds going to help combating frost.

Frosty press release from AC Chinon:

‘Quatre à cinq jours de lutte contre le gel par an pour sauver une récolte : en 2018, 50% des zones à risque de l’AOC Chinon seront protégées 

La protection contre le gel du vignoble de Chinon s’accélère : en 2018, ce sont près de 50% des zones dites gélives de l’AOC Chinon qui seront protégées, soit 538 hectares sur les 1200 les plus exposés (l’appellation compte au total 2400 hectares en production). Le mode de protection le plus utilisé sur l’appellation reste celui des tours antigel amovibles ou fixes. Si cette lutte ne dure que 4 à 5 jours par an, elle est une épreuve pour tous, dont l’issue heureuse est la préservation des emplois et de l’économie de tout un territoire. 

Les gels de printemps de 2016 et 2017 ont été un coup dur pour l’appellation Chinon, réduisant de moitié le rendement moyen par hectare en 2016 et d’un quart en 2017. Une perte estimée à 25 millions d’euros au total sur les deux années pour les 181 vignerons que compte l’appellation, à laquelle ils ont pu faire face grâce au stock de bouteilles qu’ils avaient conservé. 

Les vignerons connaissent régulièrement des aléas climatiques mais il est rare d’enchainer deux années consécutives de gel intensif. Aussi, ils se sont organisés pour expérimenter plusieurs procédés de lutte, à l’image de la CUMA de Cravant Les Côteaux laquelle, après le gel de 1991 et 1994, avait mis des moyens en commun pour investir dans les tours antigel ou tours à brassage d’air. Fabrice Gasnier, Président de la CUMA de Cravant Les Coteaux met à présent son expérience à profit au Syndicat des vins de Chinon, où il est administrateur en charge du lourd dossier « aléas climatiques ». Le Syndicat a d’ailleurs commandé une étude sur l’aspersion dont les premiers résultats seront connus au premier semestre 2018.

Les moyens de protection

Aujourd’hui, quatre moyens de lutte contre le gel existent sur le vignoble : l’aspersion, les tours antigel, les bougies et les frostguard (sorte de chauffage que l’on peut déplacer). Le mode de protection le plus utilisé sur l’appellation reste celui des tours antigel. Des moyens de lutte coûteux – pour exemple, une tour avec son installation complète coûte en moyenne 42 000 euros – pour seulement quelques jours d’utilisation dans l’année… mais qui peuvent sauver une récolte et faire toute la différence !

Le brassage de l’air avec les tours

Mélanger l’air froid situé au niveau des bourgeons avec l’air plus chaud présent en altitude permet de protéger une surface de vignes d’environ 5 à 6 hectares si la température ne descend pas au dessous de – 4°C. Les tours fixes ou amovibles fonctionnent comme un ventilateur géant avec des pales en action et sont particulièrement efficaces en cas de gelées blanches. 

Le gel … contre le gel, la protection par l’aspersion

Cela peut paraître contradictoire mais l’aspersion c’est à dire le principe qui consiste à envoyer de l’eau sur les vignes avec un système de brumisateur, crée un phénomène de protection contre le gel : quand l’eau gèle, le changement de phase liquide en phase solide est une transition exothermique. L’eau qui se transforme en glace libère donc des calories qui vont protéger ce qui est en dessous, à savoir les bourgeons. Il faut ensuite maintenir l’arrosage en continu, jusqu’à ce que la température remonte au dessus de +3°C. 

Chauffer les vignes avec des bougies ou des frostguard

L’une des plus vieilles traditions de lutte contre le gel est l’installation de bougies au pied des ceps postées à intervalles réguliers, ou bien une sorte de chauffage que l’on fait circuler entre les rangs de vignes en période de gelées pour gagner 2 ou 3°C 

A noter : Pour informer les riverains sur les moyens de lutte contre le gel, des réunions publiques d’information vont être organisées sur plusieurs secteurs de l’appellation : Cravant le 27 mars à 18h30 et Panzoult le 29 mars à 18h30 et Chinon le 3 avril.’ 

 Fingers crossed for a frost-free 2018.  



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The Loire comes to Newtonmore

Mountain view

Newtonmore is a village in the Highlands of Scotland – up in the Cairngorms overlooked by mountains. Whether people living in the Alps would call them mountains is another matter as few are over 4000 feet. They should not be treated lightly, however, especially in winter as they are a good 1000 miles north of the Alps. The weather can change with frightening rapidity going from a bright clear day to a white-out in just a few minutes.  Just as in the Alps there are a number fatalities on these mountains every year.

Newtonmore, which is is about 45 miles south of Inverness – the capital of the Highlands –  used to be on the main road (A9) from Edinburgh to the north of Scotland. Now the new trunk road version of the A9 bypasses all the villages and towns on its  way to Inverness, so compared to London the roads are relatively quiet here.

The village still has a railway station and surprisingly, although it is just a single platform and is unmanned it is possible to catch the sleeper to and from London.  This is where I will be, at least until early April.

All in all this is a rather long intro to explain that despite being confined to the Scottish Highlands I am still able to taste some Loire wines, which producers have kindly sent to me here so I can continue to work.

2017 Coteaux du Giennois, Clément and Florian Berthier

2017 Coteaux du Giennois, Florian and Clément Berthier


This 2017 Coteaux du Giennois from Clément and Florian Berthier is simply delicious – not complex but lovely, very clean citric aromas and flavours including grapefruit notes. Vignobles Berthier is based in Sainte Gemme en Sancerrois. The domaine was founded by Jean-Marie Berthier in 1983 and now has nearly 25 hectares making Sancerre, Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé and Coteaux du Giennois.

This wine is represented by

Chris Hardy & Charles Sydney
Charles Sydney Wines Ltd
Petite Maison
11 Quai Danton, 37500 Chinon
Tél :  (France) 02 47 81 44 03
They arrange sales to the UK wine trade.  


2015 Domaine René Couly, Chinon, Couly-Dutheil

Domaine René Couly is another fine 2015 red from Couly-Dutheil. These vines are planted on clay and flint and from parcels selected by René Couly, the grandfather of the company’s current MD – Arnaud Couly.

The deep coloured 2015 Domaine René Couly is considerably more concentrated than Wednesday’s featured wine – 2015 Les Gravières. Although drinking well now, the René Couly has considerably potential to improve and age over several decades. 



Encore Couly-Dutheil – 2015 Baronnie Madeleine

2015 Baronnie Madeleine, Chinon from Couly-Dutheil 

 Couly-Dutheil only release the Baronnie Madeleine cuvée in good vintages. 2015 is certainly on of them. Baronnie Madeleine comes from selected parcels on the clay limestone slopes or the plateau above these slopes. The 2015 has attractive concentration and plenty of soft black fruit. Very enjoyable to drink now it lacks, for the moment (?), an extra dimension. On the other hand it is noticeable that the tannin management is greatly improved over the last decade. Gone are the dry, harsh tannins that marred their wines in the first decade following the millennium.  



2015 Château de l’Aulnaye, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Château Thébaud

2015 Château de l’Aulnaye, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine,
Château Thébaud, Famille Lieubeau 

This very fine rich and concentrated Muscadet spends three years on its lees. It is the style of cru communaux, although Château Thébaud has yet to be formally recognised the French government rather to the understandable frustration of those eligible to benefit from the new appellation.

This style of Muscadet is far removed from the fresh citric version that goes so well with shellfish. We drank the 2015 Château de l’Aulnaye with salmon with butter and lemon in a parcel – a fine match. This Muscadet also worked well with some mature Montgomery cheddar. 

The Lieubeaus are important growers in Château Thébaud.  


Chinese cap