Domaine Moulin Touchais, Coteaux du Layon
Domaine Moulin Touchais, Coteaux du Layon

Domaine Moulin Touchais, Coteaux du Layon

Loire Valley, France 1985 (750mL)
Regular price$89.00

Domaine Moulin Touchais, Coteaux du Layon

Of the thousand of different wine grape varieties, a very precious few have the ability to hang on the vine until they are exceptionally ripe and still maintain a high level of refreshing, balancing acidity. The best at accomplishing this rare feat are Riesling and Chenin Blanc, and today we get the pleasure of offering the latter with an additional bonus: Close to four decades of bottle age! At their apogée, late-harvest wines require many years to show their full spectrum of aromas and flavors, which is why today’s discovery from the storied estate of Moulin Touchais is such an exciting, and singular, opportunity. Prepare yourself for a perspective-altering, eye-opening, mind-blowing wine experience, then grab a few bottles of this very limited, liquid gold in a glass before they’re gone.

Domaine Moulin Touchais has been producing wines in the region of Anjou since 1787. Today the estate has a total of 145 hectares under vine, but less than 10% of their production goes into the most acclaimed wine they make: Coteaux du Layon. This small appellation is found just south of the Loire River and the largest city in the region, Angers, and follows the Layon tributary as it meanders in a northwest direction towards the Loire. For centuries, this collection of tiny, picturesque hamlets has been known for late-harvest Chenin Blanc, made by allowing the grapes to hang on the vine well into the fall in order to maximize their sugar content and, if the wine stars align, develop a beneficial fungus called botrytis, a.k.a. noble rot.

Moulin Touchais has long been a famed producer of Coteaux du Layon, but two features that emerged during the 20th century have helped distinguish them as a unique and exceptional practitioner in the fine art of late-harvest wine. First is their harvesting technique, which sees about 20% of the grapes destined for Coteaux du Layon picked very early, when they’re ripe and loaded with acid, while the remaining 80% is harvested slowly, in several passes, four to six weeks after the initial green harvest. This method adds additional structure and freshness, and ensures the extreme longevity that these wines are renowned for. The second is directly related to said longevity, and is a bit of a historical twist of fate: During and shortly after WWII, the French wine market was in shambles, and prices plummeted. Rather than sell their wine at heavy discount, Moulin Touchais held back the majority of their production for over a decade. When the market finally rebounded in the 1950s and ’60s, they discovered that they now had a competitive advantage and could offer their wines with enough bottle age to show their full spectrum of potential. Since then the minimum amount of aging before they release a vintage is a whopping ten years.

Because the Touchais vineyards are further upstream on the Layon than many of their peers, the aforementioned botrytis is very rare here, only occurring in the best of vintages—when the fall rains arrive late and the grapes can hang even longer. And it just so happens that 1985 was one of those rare vintages! A warm summer led to a sunny, dry fall and a good portion of the Chenin clusters were able to develop this exquisite fungus that adds distinct aromatic complexity to dessert wines. Serve this richly textured, golden-brown hued delicacy in an all-purpose stem at around 55 degrees, then sit back and enjoy as a bevy of aromatics unfolds: Baked apple, caramel flan, orange zest, wildflower honey, pineapple, brown butter, marmalade, and white flowers. The sugar is now almost entirely integrated into the texture of the wine, while the bright acidity and mineral backbone are still going strong. A natural pairing for cheeses such as Roquefort or Fourme d’Ambert, it’s also perfectly at home with a terrine of foie gras. But since it is the baking time of year, I suggest putting your pastry hat on and making a tarte tatin to really put a cap on a celebratory meal. Santé!

Domaine Moulin Touchais, Coteaux du Layon

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