The Local Appellation - Wines Within Walking Distance
In the Cadogan guide to the Loire, Philippe Barbour describes the area around Les Verchers sur Layon (where we are based) as ‘melting vineyard valley scenery’ and ‘You could think yourself in southwest France’.
Within just 2 or 3 kilometres it is easy to discover appellations covering a whole spectrum of colours and styles. Those appellations are Saumur, Anjou and Coteaux du Layon; there’s also the likelihood of a fourth as the wines from Le Puy Notre Dame are viewed as being so exceptional that they merit their own appellation – it hasn’t happened yet but there are plans in the pipeline.
The vineyards surrounding La Grande Maison d’Arthenay are mainly planted with Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc but Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon also feature as they are allowed in the Saumur appellation. Pineau d’Aunis, Grolleau and Sauvignon Blanc can also be found locally and are used for producing Rose Anjou and Vin de Pays.
Chenin Blanc (Also known as Pineau de la Loire)
A wonderful grape variety that is misrepresented and underestimated much of the time. It has the ability to produce bone dry whites, luscious sweet wines comparable with the best of the Sauternes and sparkling wines to rival the world’s best. It has naturally high acidity so can produce well balanced wines even in hot vintages. Chenin Blanc is also susceptible to Botrytis hence the production of sweet wines with high residual sugar levels with an ageing potential of half a century!
Cabernet Franc (Also known as Breton)
This varietal is suitable for growing in cool climate areas due to its ability to ripen early. Hence it does very well in the Loire producing excellent smooth wines with fewer tannins than its big brother Cabernet Sauvignon but just as much mouth filling sensation packed full of blackcurrant and woodland fruits.