Domaine des Forges, Côteaux du Layon 2018
Aromatic notes of exotic fruits and dried fruit prelude a rich, sweet palate with underlying freshness.
Domaine de Forges has been a family-owned producer for five generations. Although his father Claude can still be found pottering round the cellar, the current success of this estate and the quality of the wines is down to son Stéphane and his wife Séverine. Their 50 hectares of sustainably farmed vines include 30 hectares of Chenin Blanc, of which seven are located on the steep slopes of the Chaumes and a one hectare parcel in the Loire’s only Grand Cru: the prestigious Quarts de Chaume. They also own thee separate plots in Savennières, including the original in the sandy-schist site of Moulin du Gué and one hectare in the cru Roche aux Moines. Yields are kept extremely low, at 25 hectolitres per hectare. As a result of this complex network of terroirs, the wines have a richness and intensity that clearly show the world-class potential of this style of Chenin Blanc.
2018 will go down in history as a legendary vintage – no spring frosts, perfect weather conditions throughout the growing season and just the right amount of water when needed. Blue skies and temperatures in the mid-30s throughout the harvest, created the perfect opportunity to harvest at optimal ripeness without rushing. The wines have the perfect balance of ripeness of fruit and classic Loire freshness.
Located in the commune of St Aubin de Luigné to the south of Angers in the western Loire Valley, the vineyards are situated on schist and carboniferous soils that mark some of the finest parcels of the region. The schist retains heat, which encourages ripening in this northern, cool climate. The vines have an average age of 40 years and the yields seldom rise above 25 hectolitres per hectare; resulting in grapes with concentrated juice and full of flavour. The vineyard is sustainably cultivated; the vineyards are grassed between the rows, with manual green harvesting and summer thinning to ensure the grapes are exposed to the sunshine to ensure ripening. The hand-harvest is picked in triages, in order to select only the ripest and highest quality fruit at the beginning at the onset of noble rot: botrytis cinerea. The misty mornings combined with dry sunny days create the perfect conditions for noble rot, which consumes the water from the grapes leaving a rich concentration of sugar, flavour and acidity in the berries.
The grapes were gently pressed in a bladder press and the must was settled. Fermentation took place with indigenous yeasts in temperature controlled tanks. A crossflow filter was used to arrest the fermentation, resulting in a lusciously sweet wine, which also helps to reduce the sulphur levels. The wine was aged in tanks to retain the purity of fruit.
An exquisite sweet wine with aromatic notes of exotic fruits and dried apricot. The palate is underpinned by fresh acidity which beautifully balances the richness of fruit. Mineral overtones add complexity through to a long, persistent finish.
Chenin Blanc 100%