Articles from: November 2012

Wine Blog – An epic journey

Well we are back in Uk after a rather elongated and difficult journey from the Loire valley in France. It usuallly takes around six hours with a couple of comfort breaks normally at Rouen and at the lovely Baie de la Somme Aire. We arrived in plenty of time at Calais and popped into the town to pick up our normal cargo, no not of booze, of fuel. Diesel is about £1.10p in France as against £1.42p per litre in th UK so a goodly saving on a 70 litre tank. We arrived at the eurotunnel entrance to find a queue stretching onto the motorway. We spent another six hours going through the queues for booking in, car parking at the terminal, and lining up waiting to board, and finally to cap it all queuing on the Uk side because the motorway was closed. Not a pleasant experience and as is the norm very little help or assistance from Eurotunnel. I suppose thats what we expect of these big companies who only have one group in mind and its not the customers its the shareholders. Typical. Did we ever get any help, assistance, advice, information or apology. No way. Cheers.

Wine Blog – 2012 vintage 5

Domaine de L'Enchantoir faired badly with the 2012 vintage, BUT and its a big but Pierre was clever with his decisions. Firstly he decided to sell his white grapes of Chardonnay and Chenin blanc to the local sparkling wine house Ackerman now owned by Cave de Saumur the local co-operative. Clever because he got a good price due to low yields and secondly it helped his cash flow which is a pretty goood reason in any event. His yields were 25 hl/ha against the norm of 40 hl/ha. The other big reason was that the potential alcohol was only 11.5-11.8% and this is low for normal wines but ideal for sparkling as the first wine is normally around this value and the extra 1% will be added with the second fermentation. So the reds were harvested. The Saumur rouge and the Puy Notre Dame both yielding 25 hl/ha as against a norm of 40 hl/ha and an appellation max of 60 and 50 hl/ha respectively. So you see with the yields being so low we could get something out of the vintage. The fermentation at Enchantoir is of a slower pace with a lower temperature in a natural environment as there is  no airconditioning in the chai. This leaves the wine to develop at its own pace and it only gets a boost if the outside temperature drops like in the last few days. Pierre will put  an electrical heating rod into the vat to help maintain temperature for the alcoholic fermentation. Its has just finished having gone for about a month from the harvest on 19 October. It'll be a fresh fruity vintage this year with no great potential for ageing so our discussion was about selling the 2012 early and keeping the 2010 and 2011 which remains in the vats developing nicely thank you very much. Malo-lactic fermentation will probably come quite quickly thereafter from the experiences I have learnt from other winemakers. Anyway we still have 2009 in stock so get in there whilst the going is good. Cheers.

Wine Blog – 2012 vintage 4

As I said yesterday the Chateau de Chaintres Saumur Champigny reds had yields 50% less than the normal levels. The Saumur Chenin appellation faired in the same way with a normal yield of 20-25hl/ha and a yield this year of 10-12 hl/ha. The chenin is somewhat more susceptable to rot and for only prime berries the chateau is very selective with the vendange. The bunches are picked by hand in the traditional way and then tipped onto a table over the trailer. Here the bunches are selected so that only the good matures berries are put into the trailer before being taken to the press.Here at the chateau the white juice of the chenin is fermented in old oak barrels at  natural temperatures. The barrels are left in the chai within an area that is partitioned off so that with the normal air temperatures at this time of year the fermentation period is well over a month. The barrels are then takne down to the cellars for ageing. Chateau de Chaintres wines are available on our website.  Cheers.

Wine Blog – 2012 vintage 3

Chateau de Chaintres reports a 50% reduced yield from the normal level of 45hl/ha on its Saumur Champigny cabernet franc for the domaine, chateau and des oratorien cuveés. The reasons are as I set out on the two previous blog pages. The vendange started on 15 Ocotober and finished on the 20th October. It was all handpicked. Potential alcohol was 12.5% which is about the normal level here and not bad considring the conditions over the summer. As I reported the wine exhibits a less concentrated flavour of fruits. I tasted the domaine and chateau cuveés out in the open from the stainless steel vats. The domaine is fruity with minimal tannins and the chateau with slightly more tannins from the longer maceration period: from 15 days for the domaine to 25 days for the chateau. The wine has already gone through malo-lactic fermentation so exhibiting the smoother taste. It will stay in the vats outside over the winter to allow the 'gravel' or tartrate to settle out in the cold conditions. This is a natural process and one which Richard the winemaker is keen to use as a natural organic winemaker. We sell the three cuveés here in the UK. Go to our website  to buy this quality wine. Cheers.

Wine Blog – 2012 vintage 2

Our winemaker and his wife Pierre and Brigitte van den Boom from Domaine de L'Enchantoir

I talked yesterday on the blog about the conditions in the Loire valley, France during the season from the winter months in the new year to the harvest in October that dictated how the 2012 vintage would develop from berry to bottle. The berries when picked whether white or red were lacking in concentration due to the amount of rain, cold temperatures and lack of sun. You would have thought that with the reduced amount of berries per vine that the photosythesis from the leaf foliage would have increased the sugars developing in the berries but because of the lack of sun and warmth this just did not occur and we were left with less concentration than 2011 where the yield was greater but more importantly we had more sun and more sugars and concentration in the berries. This year will be a mediocre year for the Loire valley. Yes there will be some good quality with low concentration, but like last year you will need to find that quality, and it will only be found where the winemaker has taken great care with the selection of only the good berries by carefully cutting out the rot and immature berries. So in conclusion like last year you need to know your winemaker. Do not bother buying wine from your impersonal supermarket. Another example of why you need to know. Try our winemakers at We know them.  Cheers

Wine Blog – 2012 vintage 1

Simon with Richard Desouches our man at Chateau de Chaintres

So here is my first report on the 2012 vintage from a Saumur Champigny appellation. Chateau de Chaintres. We tasted with the wine maker and estate director Richard Desouche. So first we need to examine what went on during the season to have an understanding of the vintage. Pruning usually takes place over the winter months of December to March. In the early part of the year late February there was a very cold period in the Loire valley with severe frost down to minus 15 centigrade. This affected the bud formation because of the lateness of the frost. Wine makers are always worried about late frosts. The pruning in this area is to eight to ten buds on long and short branches, and the loss of bud formation therefore will ultimately result in a reduced harvest. Generally about 20% of buds were affected. The second major event to affect the vintage was the cold spell over the flowering period and this affected the berry formation with loss of berries resulting again in the reduced harvest. The third event was the wet early summer and the lack of sunshine with lower than normal temperatures. Again this had an effect on the development of the berries with lack of concentration and lower sugar levels. The results of all this was a harvest much less than normal and a juice with less concentration of flavours. Our winemakers are reporting yields of 50% less than normal. Chateaux de Chaintres usually has yields of 40 to 45 hl/ha whereas 2012 produced only 20 to 25 hl/ha on the Saumur Champigny appellation cuveés of Domaine, Chateau and des Oratorien. The Chenin harvest was even lower at 10 to 12 hl/ha a real drop from the normal levels. Appellation maximum is 60 hl/ha. You would think that this would trigger a higher concentration from the vine but because of the amount of rain this has not happened. We will talk about the actual tasting tomorrow. Quality wise the berries were in good condition despite the wet conditions and tis is probably due to Richard's close attention to the vines. Chaintres is also now organic and the combinatin of ploughing and natural vegitation allowed more mositure to be taken into the soil without allowing the damp to linger around the berries. Chateaude Chaintres is one of the top Saumur Champigny appellations.   Cheers.

Wine Blog – Le Bouchon Ponot

Last night we ventured into Le Puy Notre Dame, Loire valley, France for supper at Bouchon Ponot our local restaurant We enjoy the food and our guests who stay with us at Manoir de Gourin also visit the restaurant regularly as well. They do some good french cuisine. Our guests often go regularly whilst with us and that's a sign of a good destination. Cheers.

Wine Blog – Holidays in the Loire valley, France

If you fancy a bit of fun for New Year where better than a trip to Puy Notre Dame in deepest Loire valley. Le Bouchon Ponot is putting on a soireé in the evening with a 9 course meal and music through the night. Should be a great night. Book on 0033 241 536946. Cheers.

Wine Blog – 2012 tasting

I have now arrived in the Loire valley to taste the 2012 vintage and we will start either at Domaine de L'Enchantoir or Chateau de Chaintres. This year the harvest was much smaller in yield and without a good summer and difficult spring the crop has been smaller and the berries aloso much smaller. It will be very interesting to see if the berries have the concentration of 2009 and 2010 and to some extent the 2011 which had a good early summer period. 2012 in the Loire valley was short of good sun so the wine may not be so structured and complex as the previous vintages. We will see and I will report back. with news. Cheers.

Wine Blog – Christmas Wines

You are now able to log onto our website to see our Xmas mixed cases.

The wines are selected especially with your festive food in mind, whether its the traditional turkey or beef or chicken or indeed a vegetarian options. We have aslo catered for your celebrations and for your other meals. Do you like smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Well then let me know and I'll point you in the right direction. Cheers.

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November 2012
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