Articles from: April 2012

Wine Blog – Open Doors

Tomorrow is an important day for Domaine de L'Enchantoir in Saumur country Loire valley France with the annual open day for the publlic to visit and try the wines. We are going along with a load of friends Peter and Maggie, Sally and John, Roy and Liz, Francoise, Inger and Colin. The weather is awful at the moment so we will meet in the large reception room at Enchantoir and have a great time together whilst enjoying the wines and the food Pierre and Brigitte Van den Boom will put on for their guests. I'll report back on our day. Cheers.

Wine Blog – Wine Tours

Our season has started in France for wine touring in the vineyards and estates of the wine growers of the Loire valley. Our first guests arrive on 7 May and we will be touring the Saumur Champigny area at Chateau de Chaintres where we will hold the introduction talk over coffee followed by a tour of the vineyard, the wine room and ending up at the tasting room with the wine maker Richard Desouches. Richard  will then host lunch and in the afternoon we will then tour the famous sparkling wine houses of Saumur including a tour of the caves. It will be a full day of touring and tasting. Cheers.

Wine Blog – Mildew

The season for mildew will be starting soon and the two types Downy and Powdery are treated with two separate chemicals. Downy is treated with Copper  traditionally by the Bordeaux mixture or bouillie bordelaise which contains Lime, Copper sulphate and water. Powdery called Oidium Tuckerii after a Mr Tucker who first found it in Margate, England is treated with Sulphur  and LIme mixture.

There is a story about Bordeaux mixture that the wine growers would spray their vines in Bordeaux along the road  with copper to deter people helping themselves and it was noticed that these vines did not suffer from mildew.

This season it looks like Downy mildew will be affecting the vines. Cheers.

Wine Blog – Wine tours

This year we continue our very popular fully escorted residential wine tours from Manoir de Gourin in th Loire Valley, France. If you are interested please log onto our website to see the range of tours we offer to guests from all over the world. Last year we had Canadians, Americans, New Zealanders, Australians, Zambians, Irish and British guests who without exception all enjoyed the friendly and relaxed informative talks and tours to the estates of Anjou and Saumur wine producers. The tours are geared to gently help to develop knowledge of the wines of the Loire valley.  We have some wonderful testimonials from guests. We hope you will have  a look to see what we have to offer you. Cheers.

Wine Blog – Old sayings

We had a day out today and tried a new restaurant in Saumur. Le Pot de Lapin run by Oliver who is very helpful and friendly. Enjoyed the meal and a good pot of Saumur Champigny if a litle fresh. It needed another year in the vat to develop the tannins.

Thereafter it was over to Chateau de Chaintres for a meeting with Richard Desouche the estate director and winemaker to discuss the forthcoming London International Wine Fair which we are attending with Richard to promote the chateau wines with the trade. More about this in another blog and about the 2011 vintage. Apparently the Cabernet de Saumur of 2011 is out of this world. We took a bottle to taste and will let you know the result.

Anyway I asked Richard about the forthcoming vintage and he mentioned that it was going to be a cold and dry summer. How do you know that I asked? Well he said if on the Sunday before Easter called Rameaux the wind is from the north east the summer will be cold and dry. Have you noticed the Magpies? No I said. Well they have started to build  their nests high in the trees. OK. Well that means its going to be dry as they do not need so much protection from the tree canopy. Well there you are lets see what transpires. Cheers.


Wine Blog – Duty increases

The budget brought further duty levy on wine and now we pay £1.90 for a 75cl bottle of still wine and £2.43 for a bottle of bubbly. And do not forget that VAT is added to the total price so the £1.90  becames £2.28 and the £2.43 becomes £2.92. So thats before we even look at the ex cellar cost, the shipping, warehousing and of course the overhead and profit. Cheap wine is cheap and by that I mean the stuff in the bottle is nothing more than a coloured alcoholic liquid from somewhere. Any good quality wine will now be in the £10 plus price range in order to reflect the cost of the wine in the bottle. So if we take a £10 bottle of wine the tax element on this is £3.57 so that leaves a reasonable amount left for the other costs. If you take a £5.00 bottle the vat and duty is £2.73 which leaves only £2.27 for the cost of the wine, the bottle, the transport and the margins for all the people involved in the process of getting the wine from vineyard to your mouth. Worth a thought.Cheers.

Wine Blog – Pruning

Its April and the pruning of the vines is well finished and now comes the  horizontal tieing of the pruned branches to the tie wires. With some flexibility in the vine now in spring the branches can be  bent from the natural vertical pose  into the horizontal and tie onto the wires. The vines have started to sprout and the wood can be bent onto the wire easily. I have included some pictures of the vines in the vertical and ties horizontally and these branches will form the basis of the production of the grapes come summer and autumn.

Wine Blog – Black Market in wine trade

Any legitimate wine business will be relieved to hear about the government crackdown on illegal alcohol smuggling. According to a recent article the loss in revenue to the treasury is estimated at £1.2bn. The other side of the coin is the effect it has on legitimate businesses like ours. We have noticed on one occasion the sort of pricing that a customer was talking about which was so low we would have been bringing wine in at a loss to compete. Its about time something was done to combat this trade to give proper businesses a chance to operate in the normal market place.

There is talk about a special tax paid mark which may help to stop the trade but in our view it seems all to easy to enter the country without any checks. How does a lorry full of alcohol get through customs? Apparently the estimates are that the equivalent of 28,000 lorries enter Britian every year bringing in illegal alcohol. We need more border checks and the fines and the extra revenue from the alcohol duty should certainly cover any increase in costs.

Wine Blog – 2011 wine tasting

Today I ventured over to Domaine de L'Enchantoir to check up on the progress of the 2011 vintage. Pierre and Brigiite have been busy filtering the Saumur Blanc appellation ready for bottling on Thursday. They were topping up the 8000 litre vat with wine from a small vat with a floating top which is a useful piece of kit. It takes the remainder of the juice at harvest after the main vats have been filled. When filtering and moving wine from vat to vat there will always be a small loss and the wine from the smaller vat is used to fill the main vat and the lid to the small vat can then be lowered to the level of the wine.

I tasted the Chenin blanc and bearing in mind it had just been filtered the wine tasted fresh and fruity and compared with 2010 I feel a slightly softer wine with slightly more balance towards the residual sugar with less acidity. Jolly good for the UK market.

In the meantime I have asked Pierre to send some samples over to Uk to a potential customer in Herts. A bottle of the Chenin 2010 vintage has been included. Chenin is not a particular favourite yet in the UK possibly because it does not have the name of sauvignon or chardonnay but at its best it makes a very well structured and balanced wine. Cheers.

Wine Blog – Branding French Wine

France has always maintained its belief in promoting wine in the traditional way of appellation names. In France I suppose thats ok as many people know their own wines. Even that though may not be the case anymore. I mean if you saw a wine label with 'Appellation Saumur Controlee' would you know where Saumur was in France? Would you know what the grape was? Certainly no to the second question  because the appellation allows a number of grapes to be used. Yes primarily Cabernet Franc but there could be some Cabernet Sauvignon lurking in there. That may not be a good example but the point is that on most bottles of wine there is no mention of the grape variety.

Most people in UK will choose their wine by the grape variety so its extremely important that this information is communicated to the consumer. What's wrong with putting the grape variety on the label? Its probably ok when there is a single varietal like Sauvignon Blanc used in Sancerre but with a blend of grape varieties which may differ each year this is more difficult. Then the appellation or name has to be prominant like Burgundy or Bordeaux. Where neither of these are prominant there is a difficulty in branding a wine.

So in an area like the Loire with so many different appellations and grape varieties there is a complete lack of brand recognition and thats why the wines are not well known to anyone except the french and some more knowledgeable wine buffs. Its probably why these wines do not sell well in the UK. Its a shame because there are some great wines in the Loire Valley apart from Sancerre. Cheers.

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April 2012
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