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Domaine des Forges Vignoble Branchereau Coteaux du Layon Premiere Cru Chaume
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No 6 in our tasting of the medal winning wines at the Angers Wine Fair 2015
The Domaine des Forges has been a family vineyard for 5 generations. They grow over 47 hectares of vines including a Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay white varieties, some low-cropping Gamay planted on schist , Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and 27 hectares of Chenin Blanc.
Chenin includes one finely-placed hectare plot in Quarts de Chaume grand cru and 3 separate plots in Savennières, the original Moulin du Gué being joined by 1 hectare in Clos du Papillon and another in the famous savennières Roche aux Moines.
The steep slopes of St Aubin and Chaume produce intensely elegant wines whose great concentration is always balanced with just enough power, freshness and fruit.
Ensuring both quality and ripeness of the grapes by grassing through the vineyards, short pruning, summer thinning and thinning-out of the leaves, the picking is carried out carefully with close selection and the yield seldom rises above 25 hectolitres /hectare for Chenin Blanc.
Cabernet, Chardonnay and Sauvignon ferment at controlled temperatures in a series of stainless steel and underground vats or in barrels.
The Layons, Savennières and the increasingly elegant Anjou Blanc ferment slowly, plot by plot and selection by selection, either in vats or in 1 to 3 year old 400 litre double-barrels, with a partial malo and careful maturing on the lees ensuring extra ampleness and concentration.
The results are wines with a richness and intensity that clearly show the world-class potential of this style of Chenin.
I tasted the Chaume Premiere Cru sweet wine which won a gold medal at the Angers Wine Fair in February.
The Chaume AOC is a tiny enclave of 78 hectares within Coteaux du Layon. It was recognised by decree on 21 February 2007. (See the article on the Premier Cru Chaume appellation process online.) The wines come from designated plots around Hameau de Chaume, and fall within Rochefort-sur-Loire. The appellation decree limits the yield to a maximum of 25Hℓ per hectare.
Grape variety: Chenin, harvested when it is over-ripe.
Terroir: Sandstone shale, quartz and puddingstone on a carboniferous subsoil. The terroirs are on hillsides, making for excellent concentration.
Winemaking: The grapes are harvested in passes collecting small sections of the bunches. The grapes are pressed gently using a bladder press. Alcoholic fermentation is controlled by adjusting the temperature and the wine is aged in tanks and barrels.
Tasting notes: A dried fruit nose with notes of toasted almonds. In the mouth, a good intensity with candied fruit aromas accompanied by the typical honey notes we expect from this appellation.
Pairings: Ideal as an aperitif, or with foie gras or blue cheese canapés. Serve before dessert, ideally spiced or tangy flavours based on cinnamon, orange peel or bitter chocolate. Avoid pairing with very sweet desserts.
Drinking: Drink within the first 4 years. A 3 to 4 year dumb period follows (avoid drinking during this time, or decant well in advance). Open aged 8 or more years to experience the tertiary aromas. Keep for 15 to 20 years.
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