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POURQUOI CE BLOG?

Ce blog est né de l'heureux hasard d'une rencontre, en 2010, au Salon des Vins de Loire d'Angers, autour d'un verre de rosé de Bourgueil - celui de Pierre Jacques Druet. Il y avait là cinq "plumitifs" du vin. Le rosé aidant, l'idée a germé de créer un espace commun.
Parce qu'à cinq, on peut aborder plus de thèmes.
Parce qu'on peut débattre.
Parce qu'on peut partager. Des coups de coeur, des coups de gueule, de l'expérience.
Et qu'est-ce que le vin sinon une boisson de partage?
De ces cinq, certains sont déjà des blogueurs confirmés, d'autres non.
Comme il y a les 5 sens, il y  a maintenant les 5 du Vin.

Les 5 du Vin

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QUI SOMMES-NOUS?

David Cobbold (Eccevino) est le plus français des journalistes anglais du vin, ou vice versa. Il a reçu en 2011 le Wine Blog Trophy pour  son blog, More than Just Wine.

Jim Budd, sujet de sa Gracieuse Majesté, est journaliste pour diverses revues britanniques. Amoureux des vins de Loire, il leur consacre un blog, Jim's Loire, primé en 2009 du Wine Blog Trophy.

Hervé Lalau est un journaliste français écrivant pour diverses revues et sites français, belges, suisses et canadiens. Son blog "Chroniques Vineuses" lui a valu le Wine Blog Trophy en 2010.

Michel Smith, PourLeVin, est un journaliste français établi en Roussillon, travaillant pour diverses revues et guides en France. Il s'intitule lui-même "Journaliste en Vins et autres Plats de Résistance".

Marc Vanhellemont est un journaliste belge travaillant pour divers magazines en Belgique et en France. Incontournable, sauf par la face nord.

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Lundi: Cobboldday
Mardi: Buddday
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Vous voulez-en savoir plus sur nous? Nos portraits se trouvent en rubrique The Famous 5.

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Sauf mention contraire, les textes et photos sont protégés par le Copyright de chaque auteur, individuellement pour les articles signés, ou collectivement pour les articles coopératifs des 5 du Vin.

Jim Budd's photographs are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 UK: Scotland License.
21 septembre 2010 2 21 /09 /septembre /2010 00:04

 

SBCathtaas.jpg2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Cher Valley

Although it is a very sound principle to be very wary of hype propagated by wine producers and disseminated by journalists, 2010 in Loire will certainly be the best vintage to date of the second decade of the 21st Century.

Picking is getting underway in eastern Touraine with the early varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The latter is mainly used for sparkling wines, especially Crémant de Loire. The vintage  is well underway in Muscadet. However, it is unlikley that a start will made on Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc before the beginning of October. Producers in the Coteaux du Layon and Coteaux de l'Aubance may not finish until mid to late November depending on the weather.

I'm increasingly  persuaded that it is very difficult and rare for a Loire vintage to be good for all of the wines, since there is such a diversity of grape varieties and styles made as well as the length of the vintage.

I'm off to the Pays Nantais today to see how Muscadet harvest is coming along. I will report next week.


Cot10as.jpg2010 Côt

Jim

Published by les5duvin - dans Vu de Touraine
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31 août 2010 2 31 /08 /août /2010 00:00

  ChduPetitThouarss

Château du Petit Thouars

I have to admit a sliver of disappointment that our most prominent follower and distinguished former medical man was unable to diagnose the malady that the Touraine reformists have contracted. I can only assume that the disease is complicated and multi-faceted – doubtless very difficult to find a cure.

Last Friday we visited the exquisite Château du Petit Thouars in Saint Germain-sur-Vienne, which is at the western extremity of Indre-et-Loire and AC Touraine. This is Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc country – entirely logical and proper since the estate lies between appellations of Chinon and Saumur/Saumur-Champigny.


NuCheninBlancas.jpgNew plantation of Chenin Blanc

The estate now has 15 hectares of vines including 70 ares of Chenin Blanc planted this year. The rest is Cabernet Franc with the oldest vines planted in 1975. They make two cuvées – Selection from younger vines and Reserve from the oldest vines. Selection is designed for early drinking, while the Reserve has a longer élèvage and will often need further time in bottle to be at its best. The wines are good and very reasonably priced: Selection at 5€ and the Reserve at 6€.

The best wine I tasted during the visit was the 2005 Reserve, which I’m sure one would be hard pressed to pick out if it was included in a blind tasting of Chinons. It has good concentration of black fruits, structure, quite firm tannins at the moment and a freshness in the finish. To drink now this is best decanted as it still needs two or three years more years to hit its peak. 

PTRes05s.jpg

2005 Reserve

Unfortunately despite these wines typicité and quality they will be excluded from AC Touraine if the reforms pass because they are pure Cabernet Franc and don’t have the required minimum of 50% Côt, since the latter is rarely grown in this part of Touraine.

Words, I’m afraid, for the moment fail me…


  Jim

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11 août 2010 3 11 /08 /août /2010 00:11

Une fois n'est pas coutume, je duplique un post publié sur mon blog perso. Mais j'ai deux bonnes raisons. Primo, cela concerne un autre des 5, à savoir Jim. Secundo, je n'aurai pas trop d'un deuxième blog pour faire aboutir la démarche, qui a je ne sais quoi de donquichotesque... Mais vous n'avez qu'à en juger vous-même...

Si, comme les chants du même nom, les causes désespérées sont les plus belles… Alors celle-ci est vraiment très belle.

Tourangeau de cœur, notre ami Jim Budd s’intéresse de près à tout ce qui touche sa région d’adoption. Il vient de lever un nouveau lièvre: l’AOC Touraine a le projet (très avancé) de réduire son encépagement, en blanc, au seul sauvignon.

Exit donc, le chenin, pourtant particulièrement adapté à la région (il n’y a qu’a voir les belles bouteilles qu’on produit, en sec comme en doux, à Montlouis et à Vouvray). Idem en rouge, où l’idée est de privilégier le gamay et le côt, sacrifiant le grolleau et le pineau d’Aunis (alias chenin noir) – vous savez, celui qui donne de si jolis vins chez Patrice Colin, en Côtes du Vendômois, à quelques kilomètres de là. Ou même, en AOC Touraine même, chez Thierry Puzelat.

 

Aunis.jpgEt dire qu'à quelques kilomètres, dans les Coteaux du Loir, on fête le pineau d'Aunis!

 

l paraît que ce projet vise à renforcer la cohérence de l’appellation. Voilà que nos vignerons raisonnent comme des marketeurs. Attention, car les marketeurs ne sont pas les payeurs !

 

J’ai vraiment scrupule à donner des leçons aux producteurs.  Qui sommes-nous pour leur dire ce qu’ils doivent faire, nous qui ne vivons pas avec eux, qui ne vivons pas de leur production? C’est à eux de décider où ils veulent aller, en définitive. Mais là, pour Jim comme pour moi, trop is too much. On ne peut quand même pas les laisser se rogner les ailes sans rien faire. Ce serait un cas de non assistance à vignoble en danger.

 

En danger! Comme il y va, le Lalau! Mais je maintiens. Tout miser sur le sauvignon, aujourd’hui, en blanc, alors que la production mondiale est pléthorique, c’est loin d’être avisé. Au moins à long terme.

Que l’AOC Touraine veuille profiter des investissements de communication dégagés par l’Interprofession sur le thème «Loire=sauvignon», pourquoi pas? Mais pas au prix d’hypothéquer l’avenir!

Aujourd’hui, l’Hérault teste l’alvarinho, comme l’Australie le verdelho, ou l'Oregon le Grüner Veltliner. Des cépages locaux jouent à saute frontières. Il faut croire qu'il y a un potentiel. Les consommateurs actuels sont curieux de nouveaux profils aromatiques. Alors, qui peut dire de quels cépages demain sera fait? Pourquoi l’AOC Touraine, au lieu de simplifier son offre, n’essaierait-elle pas de valoriser sa variété, sa différence? Ses atouts, aussi petits soient-ils?

Avec tout le respect qui lui est dû, et pour rester en France (et dans le sauvignon), la Touraine ne sera jamais Sancerre ou Pouilly. Et même ces appellations de renom n’ont pas toujours la tâche facile face aux sauvignons de Nouvelle-Zélande, notamment, sur les grands marchés mondiaux comme le Royaume-Uni. Une question d’exotisme, de prix, de régularité, aussi. Tout devient plus facile quand on bénéficie de gros volumes sous une même marque, et qu'on peut la soutenir. Résultat: les consommateurs de Sa Gracieuse Majesté sont nombreux, aujourd'hui, à penser que "Sauvignon=NZ". Pourquoi pas, s'ils aiment les asperges et le pamplemousse? Je caricature, car les vins des Kiwis ne sont pas tous comme ça. Ce que je veux dire, c'est que la Touraine ne doit pas se tromper de modèle.

En un mot comme en cent, au nom de l’avenir comme au nom de l’histoire (car le pineau d’Aunis et le chenin étaient établis en Touraine bien avant que le sauvignon ne sorte de son fief berrichon), il est urgent de ne rien changer à l’encépagement. Noir ou blanc, pas de racisme, il faut sauver le soldat chenin!

Cela n’empêche en rien le syndicat de l’AOC de mener son autre combat du moment: celui de la délimitation de zones d’excellence, avec la mise en place de deux sous-appellations Touraine-Chenonceaux et Touraine-Oisly. Une démarche que j’approuve, globalement, comme tout ce qui va dans le sens d’une recherche d’identité.

 

L’INAO aurait-elle lié les deux projets? Est-ce qu’il monnaye son soutien aux deux sous-appellations, en demandant en échange une « normalisation » de l’encépagement? Cela s’est vu ailleurs – c’est ce qui vaut à notre cher carignan d’avoir disparu de certaines zones du Languedoc. Et c’est bien dommage, n’est-ce pas, Michel Smith?

 

Si c’est l’explication, alors raison de plus, pour les vignerons, de refuser ce «deal» qui leur est imposé. Mais s’en rendent-ils compte? Et qui dira à l’INAO qu’imposer le sauvignon en Touraine au nom du fameux "lien au terroir" est une escroquerie intellectuelle, au plan historique?

Bref, Jim et moi demandons donc au président de l’AOC, Alain Godeau, qui est un homme de bon sens et de bonne foi, de maintenir l’encépagement actuel… tout en menant à bien ses autres, excellentes réformes!

Je n’ai pas beaucoup d’illusion sur le poids de notre intervention – des journaleux comme nous n’ont pas voix au chapitre, nous sommes les Mouches du Coche, et je ne parle pas de Coche-Dury.

Mais vous, amis internautes, pouvez peut-être faire la différence. Si vous partagez notre analyse, si vous voulez aider à maintenir la vino-diversité de ce vignoble qui nous charme, justement, par sa variété, vous avez deux solutions.

Soit écrire un petit courriel, directement à l’attention de M. Godeau, à l’adresse suivante: syndicat.aoc.touraine@wanadoo.fr

Soit, et c'est encore plus facile (tant de mails se perdent), déposer un commentaire de soutien sur ce blog – nous transmettrons.

Amis du web, le temps n’est-il pas venu de tester le prétendu pouvoir de la blogosphère?

Quoi que vous décidiez, merci de votre attention. C’est sans doute aussi au travers d’actions comme celles-ci que ce blog peut trouver son utilité, voire la justification du nombre d’heures que j’y consacre…

Hervé Lalau

Published by les5duvin - dans Vu de Touraine
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6 juillet 2010 2 06 /07 /juillet /2010 00:52

CafeduNords.jpg 2009 Le Tour: Café du Nord, Menetou-Salon


Le menu sportif

After the entrées – Roland Garros, Wimbledon, The World Cup and the Giro d’Italia – le plat principal: Le Tour de France.

For the moment there have been more crashes than thrills – leading up to the sprint on Monday and now yesterday’s stage through the Ardennes.Today’s stage that includes sections of the famous pavé around Arenberg-Porte du Hainault may well be similarly crash-affected.

Doubtless more on the racing next week but now a few thoughts on choosing wines that match the star riders. Let’s start with the seven times winner, Lance Armstrong. Clearly it has to be an American wine and a powerful, four-square Zindandel is the obvious choice especially as it has a touch of spice like the questions that continue to swirl around the multiple champion. Come to think of it, Bulls Blood might be the right choice give Floyd Landis’ latest revelations.

Wine choice for Australian Cadel Evans is not that different from Lance Armstrong – something suitably butch, so it has to be Barossa either a pure Shiraz or a Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz like sweet and purely black-fruited 1997 Signature from Yalumba.

In contrast for the slenderly built Frank and Andy Schleck one needs look no further than a Riesling from Luxembourg. The choice for the powerful and swift Fabian Cancellara is a little more difficult. Difficult to see a Swiss wine that would be the ideal match, so I suggest we have to look to the Northern Rhône – Hermitage with a splash of Côte Rôtie.

Then there is the Spaniard, Contador, going for his third Tour win. Speedy at time trials and fleet-footed in mountains rules out Priorato and probably wines from Toro. A fine Rioja is a possibility but I fancy a better match would be a Palo Cortado or a fine dry Amontillado – something that has both some body but also a rapier precision.

Then there is sprinter Mark Cavendish – a complex question best held over to next week.

Jim

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22 juin 2010 2 22 /06 /juin /2010 00:55

Last Wednesday we held a rare vertical of the AC Touraine wines of the Clos Roche Blanche. Rare in several ways as it is very unusual to give straight Touraine wines this sort of respect and probably unusual to be able to assemble such a range of wines from a single Touraine property with the expectation that you won’t be dealing with just a collection of faded ghosts.

AG&BCs

Antoine Gerbelle and Bertrand Celce

There are, of course, a few other Touraine producers who could put this on but not many. Anyway Catherine Roussel and Didier Barrouillet of the Clos Roche Blanche and I had talked for a year or so of putting on a vertical of their wines. Finally last Wednesday we got it together and around 15 of us including Antoine Gerbelle (Revue du Vin de France) and Bertrand Celce (Wine Terroirs) tasted some 42 wines.

I first met Didier Barrouillet back in September 1989 on one my earliest press trips to the Loire. Soon after I met Catherine and I have bought wine from them pretty regularly since then.  Although their wines were already impressive – Gamays, for instance, with character and concentration, they were farming conventionally using weed killers etc. In 1992 they changed and moved to organic cultivation and dropped the use of chemical additives, with the exception of sulphur, in their winemaking.

 

awildleeks.jpg

 

For a time they moved to full biodynamics but later abandoned this because of the amount of work involved – in those days they had around 40 hectares of vines. Over the last ten years or so Catherine and Didier have slimmed down their holding till they now have nine hectares as they prepare for retirement.

C&Dflowerss

Wild flowers beside the vines

But really labels are irrelevant here. For a walk in the Clos Roche Blanche vineyards is close to taking a walk in a garden with a considerable array of wild flowers. There are also Didier’s wild leeks planted by vines that are suffering from esca and, which Didier, believes can help a plant to survive this disease that kills each year around 4% of the Sauvignon Blanc vines. He believes that the wild leek helps to repair the delicate micro-biological balance that surround the vines’ roots that may well have been damaged by the sustained use of weed killers.

It is interesting to note that there are an increasing number of producers in this part of the Cher Valley around La Tesnière on the border of Pouillé and Mareuil-sur-Cher. It is notable that Thierry Delaunay, the energetic director of the 27-ha Domaine Joël Delaunay, which is not organic, has taken on an additional five hectares of vines that are already organically cultivated. Thierry has undertaken to continue to farm this parcel organically. Doubtless Catherine and Didier’s approach has been inspirational locally.

Teserosionas.jpg

 

There is, however, one glaring exception just a short walk from the exuberant bio-diversity of the Clos Roche Blanche vines. Here there is a parcel so blitzed with weed killer that little life remains apart from the vines and patches of rather sinister, thin patches of moss. Although the vines are only on a slight slope, the inevitable erosion is obvious both in the centre of the row but also at the end.

Teserosionbs.jpg

Close up on erosion

Just a quick glance here is enough to tell you that this approach is not sensible or sustainable. Sadly the vines belong to a well-known Touraine producer who in his time had had a pioneering role in building the reputation of the wines of AC Touraine. 

Teserosioncs.jpg

Also erosion around the base of the vine

Tesnerosions.jpg

Where you might wonder are my notes on the wines we tasted – some have already been posted on Jim’s Loire and also there is a detailed report on Bertrand Celce’s wine terroirs. It is also what is happening in the vineyards is more important long term than what is in the bottle.    

Published by les5duvin - dans Vu de Touraine
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15 juin 2010 2 15 /06 /juin /2010 00:10

89CabTMs.jpg1989 Cabernet, AC Touraine, Domaine Michaud


In these days where much of the wine comment and news is dominated by the madness that is the Bordeaux en primeur circus, it is great to be reminded of real value. A couple of examples of wines enjoyed during the week sparked off this theme.

Firstly a 1989 Cabernet, AC Touraine from Domaine Michaud, this is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. I bought this sometime in the early 1990s for probably the equivalent of 2 or 3 €. When opened on Wednesday evening this Cabernet from the Cher Valley showed that it had aged well with ripe, medium bodied fruit with just a hint of brickiness in the colour. This was a fine reminder of the exceptional summer and autumn of 1989.

The following night I ventured down towards Michael Smith’s territory with a very enjoyable bottle of the still sweetly fruited 1986 Cuvée Spéciale Château du Grand Caumont from Lézignan in the Corbières. Two wines from fairly unheralded vineyards showing that it is possible to find wines that will age well and continue to give pleasure nearly 25 years after they were made. Offering a value that is no longer found at the top end of Bordeaux.

86GrandCaumonts.jpg

1986 Cuvée Spéciale, Château de Grand Caumont, Corbières

My thoughts about une valeur sûre were crystallised by our Sunday lunch at Jacky Dallais La Promenade in Le Petit Pressigny. This has long been one of my favourite restaurants and certainly my favourite in the Loire, although La Côte des Monts Damnés and Le Lièvre Gourmand, now in Orléans, can offer fairly stiff competition. Dallais wins, however, through his continued inventiveness, quality and very reasonable prices and for the wonderful wine list.

Dallais learnt his skills under Joël Robuchon in Paris before returning to Le Petit Pressigny in the mid-1980s taking over and transforming the family bistro into a fine but comfortable restaurant. Le Petit Pressigny is a quiet village in the heart of Touraine Sud with 320 inhabitants well away from the major routes. It is 75 kilometres from both Tours and Poitiers. You have to be good to attract people and the restaurant was full for Sunday lunch.

 

PPLaPromenades.jpg

We have been going to La Promenade for the best part of 20 years and have never had a bad dish let alone a bad meal. It deserves more than one star in the Michelin. Perhaps it is not promoted further because it doesn’t have an excess of serving staff, although the service is efficient and friendly and Jacky Dallais does not do the celebrity chef performance. Rather than glad-handing around the tables he prefers to remain in the kitchen working his magic. Over the years I think I have met him just once when Xavier Fortin, their brilliant sommelier, showed us the new kitchens.

Just like driving a car, chefs should only be allowed to circulate amongst their customers once they have passed a test. One of the most memorable meals I have ever had was in August 1983 at the Troisgros in Roanne. It was wonderful and the service was impeccably understated. Sadly ten days later Jean Troisgros died suddenly.

Some ten years or so later we went back. The food was still good but less memorable and celebrity chef syndrome had struck. Both Pierre Troisgros and his son Michel took turns touring the tables. A few months before I had spent the day with Pierre in Muscadet as we were both being intronised as new members into Les Chevaliers Bretvin. When Pierre reached our table I attempted to remind him that we had recently spent the day together. I certainly didn’t expect Pierre to remember me but he appeared not to listen. I felt that the table tour was only part of the show. I don’t feel compelled to return and would rather guard the memory of our meal back in 1983.


Aigronnes.jpg

River Aigronne that flows through Le Petit Pressigny


But I digress. From the imaginative amuses bouches to the petits fours our Sunday lunch was indeed excellent. We all agreed that the stand-out dish from the Menu Tradition (50€ for five courses or 40€ for four) was the huîtres spéciales, compote d’artichaut, citron confit and consommé de tomate featuring some deliciously succulent oysters.

Naturally the excellent wine list, assembled by Xavier Fortin and Jacky Dallais, features some of the Loire’s best producers. We could have started with the 1959 Clos du Bourg Moelleux from Domaine Huet for 98€ or the 1952 demi-sec Le Mont Huet for the same price. However, despite the recent slight rise in the value of sterling against the euro we were not feeling sufficiently expansive or flush. Instead we opted for the 2000 Saumur Blanc Brézé from the Frères Foucault at 54€ and the 2003 Les Arboises Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Rouge also from vineyards in Brézé.

 

2KClosRBrezes.jpg

Lovely complexity on the 2000 from the Foucaults and rich, black and pruny fruit with the opulent texture of 2003 in Guiberteau’s Saumur. Given the quality of the Promenade’s wine list, it is not surprising that the Loire’s wine aristocracy patronise La Promenade. On Sunday there was a group of leading producers there including Clément Pinard (Sancerre), Benjamin Dagueneau and Romain Guiberteau as well as Alain Graillot’s son.

03GuiberteauSRs.jpg

In summary – La Promenade – une valeur sûre and well worth more than a detour. Next week: encore une valeur sûre when I report on what I hope will be a remarkable tasting of the old vintages of the Clos Roche Blanche in Mareuil in the Cher Valley.

Jim Budd

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13 avril 2010 2 13 /04 /avril /2010 02:42

It was fortunate that the bottle of Bourgueil Rosé of Pierre-Jacques Druet, the vinous mid-wife in attendance at the birth of Les 5 du Vin, was drunk at the salon des Vins de Loire. For had the five of us made our separate ways to visit Pierre-Jacques in Benais I’m not sure that we would all have made it. Certainly we would have explored the byways of Benais, while attempting to track down our man. 

PJSigns.jpgPJ: it's here!

For, although Pierre-Jacques, is widely acknowledged as one of the leading producers of Bourgueil, he remains extremely discreet. Not for him large advertising hoardings and a succession of signs directing you to his winery. Instead just an almost illegible sign secured with a piece of wire to an old iron gate tells the visitor that they have reached their destination.    

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6 avril 2010 2 06 /04 /avril /2010 01:17

At first sight it is decidedly curious that the C word (culture) is silent in appellation contrôlée. There are detailed regulations on the number of vines per hectare, permitted grapes varieties, yields, pruning systems and the number of buds allowed but nothing, or very rarely, anything about how a vineyard should be managed in the AC décrets.

On further reflection this is perhaps not so strange as the first appellations were drawn up in 1936 before the advent of the chemical arsenal now available to a vigneron. Then you farmed organically whether you liked it or not – there wasn’t a choice. Thus presumably there was no need to include ‘culture’ rules in the first appellations. For some reason it appears not to have been thought appropriate to include them subsequently. 

Perhaps more should have been made of the ban on desherbage total (using weedkiller over the whole vineyard) in the décret of the new AC for Saumur Le Puy Notre Dame. Indeed producers are required to either grass over their vineyards or harrow the soil and the use of weed killers is limited to 50% of the area. Details: 

'AOC Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame
Pour l'AOC «Saumur» suivie de la dénomination géographique Puy-Notre-Dame: l'enherbement (naturel ou semé) ou la culture des sols (labour) est obligatoire suivant les itinéraires techniques choisis par les producteurs. Le désherbage chimique ne doit pas dépasser 50% de la surface de chaque parcelle engagée. Le dédoublement de la vigne est obligatoire au plus tard le 15 juillet de l'année de récolte.'


As far as I know, it is highly unusual to include rules on how the vineyard should be cultivated in an appellation’s regulations. Although permitting the use of weed killer on 50% of the vineyard is still too much, it is a very welcome start and it would be good to see the rest of France’s appellations following Le Puy’s example.

Which brings us neatly onto the three proposals of Didier Barrouillet of the Clos Roche Blanche in the Cher Valley. The Clos Roche Blanche has achieved cult status in North America.    



DidierB.JPG

Didier Barouillet

 

Didier Barouillet's three proposals:


To have the right to sell wine as appellation contrôlée, producers should not use:

a) artificial fertilisers
Their use both causes vines to over-produce and encourages the plant to grow a lot of roots on the surface rather than to search deeper into the soil for nutrients. 

b) weedkiller throughout the vineyard
Destroys a vineyard's biodiversity and the natural balance, which assists in keeping the vine healthy. Widespread use means that other chemical products have to be used to protect the vine against various diseases. It also encourages erosion.
    
c) systemics
These penetrate into the soil destroying the microbacterial life and this Didier believes is responsible for diseases like esca because the protection this life provides for the roots of the vine has been destroyed.

Overall there is the concern that the long-term effects of the use of these products on the soil, flora and fauna are not properly known.
 
Producers, who want to use the above products and practices, would have to opt to sell their wine as vin de pays or vin de table: they would not have the right to appellation contrôlée.  Perhaps a new Pan-France vin de pays could be created – vin de pays de Monsanto – and could prove to be a popular choice. It is possible, however, that the VDP d’Oc producers might initiate legal action against this new Pan-France VDP citing unfair competition.

It is refreshing to see someone talking good sense about France’s appellation contrôlée rules.


StGdesherb10as.jpg

Rusty Pink: this year's fashionable colour for blitzed vineyards

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30 mars 2010 2 30 /03 /mars /2010 09:19
I spent a very enjoyable three hours on Saturday afternoon in the centre of Tours tasting 2009s at the 8th Fête des Vins de Bourgueil. Broadly the wines divided into two – spring cuvées from vines planted on the gravel and wines to keep that will be bottled later from vines planted on the clay and limestone of the coteaux.

2010Bourgposters.jpg
I was there


This is a clear example of terroir in action, even though the fruit in 2009 is so rich that I suspect many a ‘light’ spring cuvée would be a vin de garde in a more difficult and less generous year. It may well have been problematic in this vintage to make relatively light wines suitable to be slightly chilled for summer drinking. 

The bigger cuvées of Bourgueil, as they do in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Chinon, invariably come from the clay limestone coteaux and the lightest from sandy soils close to La Loire.

Quite how grape juice and then wine come to reflect the place in which they are grown I’m not entirely certain. As far as I know scientific studies reject the notion that vine roots take up trace elements from the soil, which then end up in the grapes.

I suspect it is more the combination of soil, exposure, drainage etc. that makes the difference. In the other words a complex equation between the growing conditions and the vine.  



GaredeToursas.jpg
A la gare de Tours

   I have never understood the notion that some places have terroir and some don’t. Some places are certainly better adapted to growing grapes, others more suited to growing potatoes or for building houses. The Bourgueil tasting was held a very short step away from the central station of Tours.  Given the magnificence of the station one has to conclude that this is ideal terroir for a railway station and probably would not have been ideal for vines. “La gare s’exprime son terroir!’

Give that the universality of terroir is self-evident, I was disappointed to read the following comments from Jane MacQuitty, The Times long-time wine correspondent in her column (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article7077471.ece) last Saturday.    

‘New World winemakers loathe the French idea of terroir, the notion that the soil, climate, aspect and altitude of a slope all create a unique patch of dirt whose character is reflected in the wines that are made there each vintage and cannot be reproduced elsewhere.’

‘Grape growers in New World countries, especially Australia, refuse to acknowledge terroir, dismissing it as self-serving mumbo jumbo.’

Doubtless Jane was deliberately exaggerating to make a point but it is, I’m afraid, lazy journalism – it just isn’t true. Not sure however, that it fully deserved being described as ‘drivel’ on a popular wine forum. 

If New World producers really didn’t believe in terroir or a sense of place, then all the Chilean vineyards would still be on the flat Central Valley and the Casablanca, Apalta Valleys along with others would never have been developed. In Australia vines would not have been planted in the Adelaide Hills or in the Clare Valley. I could go on… Perhaps it really was drivel!

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Crowd

Much more interesting than strident declarations about terroir is trying to tease out exactly why different locations affect the taste of the wine. To return to Saturday’s Bourgueil tasting – why are the wines from the sand and gravel of Chouzé-sur-Loire different in flavour, structure and longevity from those of clay and limestone of Benais? 

(c) Jim Budd

 



 
Published by les5duvin - dans Vu de Touraine
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23 mars 2010 2 23 /03 /mars /2010 06:51
This is the week without pesticides – ‘semaine pour les alternatives aux pesticides’. It is a generous week running from 20th – 30th March.

The ‘semaine sans pesticides’ falls at a good time for now is moment when many of the vignerons in eastern Touraine and elsewhere in France apply weedkillers to their vineyards. Obviously it is far from just vignerons who use weedkillers – substantial quantities are used by gardeners, especially on paths and driveways etc. But this blog is about wine.   

AgentOrangeStGs.jpgThe notorious Agent Orange

It also has to be admitted that it is easy for a journalist to criticise – to deplore the high number of vineyards that are heavily treated with weedkillers and which have no life apart from the vine. All trace of biodiversity has been eradicated. A journalist doesn’t have to make the sums add up – to ensure that the family vineyard makes a profit. Furthermore we are not faced with the rapacious demands from supermarkets in France and elsewhere seeking to provide cheap wine for their customers who have become addicted to unrealistic bargains.

However, there has to be a better way than this:

EPnolifes.jpgIs there life on Mars?

The indiscriminate use of weedkillers destroys the natural balance and inevitably leads to the need to use pesticides because there is no natural balance remaining – nothing to encourage predators that would help to keep harmful pests at bay or at least in balance. Furthermore it is possible that there is a relationship between the widespread use of weedkillers and the vine disease – esca.

It also encourages erosion even on a slight slope for there is nothing to absorb or hold back the rainwater.
 
Liens:
http://www.semainesanspesticides.be/
www.semaine-sans-pesticides.com

Two fine articles from Bertrand Celce (www.wineterroirs.com) http://www.wineterroirs.com/2010/02/herbicides_era.html

http://www.wineterroirs.com/2009/07/esca_cure.html


ErosionEpas.jpgErosion, even though the slope is gentle




(c) Jim Budd
Published by les5duvin - dans Vu de Touraine
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