Sweet, white and classic from the Loire: Moulin Touchais Anjou

Loire wines from 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1993, 1985, 1983, 1981, 1975, 1964, 1959, 1953, 1949 and approximately 1875

Moulin Touchais was founded in 1787. The appellation is Coteaux du Layon, Anjou-Saumur. The vineyard is still owned by the same family. In the early 1800s they began producing sweet wines from the Chenin Blanc grape variety. Early on they started to put away some tens of thousands of bottles of each vintage. The vineyard is big, 150 hectares, but only the best grapes become Moulin Touchais, about 35 hectares, the rest becomes Anjou blanc or is sold as bulk wine to a producer of sparkling wine in Saumur.

Despite a long history of winemaking they were almost unknown until the early 1970s, when they opened a part of the cellar that had been bricked close when Hitler’s armies conquered France. One might have thought that Loire wines might not be so sought after, perhaps, that the conquering forces wanted Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Cognac. But all soldiers were thirsty and drank what was available.

In the cellar there were over a million bottles from the 1800s onwards. Today it is estimated that there are between 1.1 million and 2 million bottles in stock. But they don’t really know because they’ve never counted them.

Chenin blanc usually gives wine with a high acidity, but in this case they harvest about 20% of the grapes before full maturity and the rest is left to get almost over-ripe, but without botrytis. They currently use no barrels. What is quite unique is that no wine is put on the market until after at least 10 years in the cellar. 1968 was a very poor vintage all over the wine world, Moulin Touchais probably has 10,000’s of bottles lying in the cellar since they thought it was so bad that it did not want to sell them. But recently they have tasted a number of bottles that they found really good, so the vintage will be launched on the market soon.

Harvest workers picking grapes, chenin blanc

Harvest workers picking grapes, chenin blanc, copyright BKWine Photography

It is interesting that a wine producer can offer so many old vintages on the market. 5-10 years ago you could buy wines from the late 1950s, but now they officially sell only wines from the 1970s onwards.

The thing you notice in this tasting is that vintage variation is very big both in terms of sweetness and acidity. Some older wines feel fresher than the younger ones, but the ageing potential is usually huge. I have tried many wines from here over the years. Among others, I remember the 1959 and the 1971 as really good.

Unfortunately sweet wines are no blockbusters, but in this case it is only 60-70 grams / liter of residual sugar. The Champagne that the Russian court drank in the 1800s could contain over 300 grams / liter. So the wines are not overly sweet. Drink Moulin Touchais with not too strong blue cheese, parmesan cheese, comté, other aged hard cheeses, or with duck liver (foie gras). But it is not sweet enough to go well with a sweeter dessert.

Moulin Touchais 1999

Ripe aroma of saffron, citrus, and a little varnish, semi-sweet flavour with both dried fruit and tropical fruit, long.

~32 euro (this and subsequent prices are estimates based on Swedish retail prices).

Moulin Touchais 1997

Here you will find almond, flowers and apricots; the taste is delicious and balanced with both good acidity and sweetness. Undoubtedly the best wine of the tasting with a strong buy recommendation.

~38 euro.

Tasting Moulin Touchais vintages, copyright Roland Eriksson

Tasting Moulin Touchais vintages, copyright Roland Eriksson

Moulin Touchais 1983

Amber, with a large bouquet of dried fruits, orange peels and peach; the taste is very ripe with apricot tones and pretty high acidity with some bitterness at the end.

~50 euro.

Moulin Touchais 1981

Slightly oxidized tone with hints of apricot jam and ripe apples; the taste is a little dried-out with oxidative traits and “wet wool” (a characteristic typical of the chenin blanc grape).

~50 euro.

Moulin Touchais 1985

Big nose with hints of apricots and nuts; perfectly ripe flavour with good sweetness and acidity, apricots and nuttiness, long.

~48 euro.

Tasting Moulin Touchais vintages

Tasting Moulin Touchais vintages, copyright Roland Eriksson

Moulin Touchais 1975

Discrete, ripe aromas of saffron, citrus and nuts; ripe flavour with high acidity and citrus.

~53 euro.

Moulin Touchais 2001

Young and open with peach, citrus and pear fruit; sweet taste of freshness, dried fruit, banana and good length. This is the vintage that is available in most bigger monopoly retail stores’ shelves in Sweden.

~25 euro.

Moulin Touchais 2000

Is floral and soft with touches of Pakistani honey mango; the flavour is full-bodied, with very lots of tropical fruits and a slight bitterness.

~33 euro.

Moulin Touchais Century Reserve

A unique wine. When they went through the wine cellar and inspected all bottle from the 1800s that had a low fill-level decided to make a blend with many different vintages and re-bottle them in the original bottles from the 1800s and put in a new cork. In this case, “average vintage” is 1875.

Here we find a big mature oxidative aroma, saffron, apricot jam and some barrels; very mature almost madeirised taste, with subdued sweetness and acidity. Absolutely stunning for a 140 years old wine! Oddly enough, it feels younger than 1980s wines.

An interesting tasting arranged by the importer VinUnic. One can only congratulate VinUnic who took over the agency in the spring from Giertz who had had it for as long as I can remember, and also the restaurant Pubologi in Stockholm who managed to prepare very well-matching food. My favourite was the scallops with roasted and fried corn, and the dessert with Roquefort cheese, with the possible exception of the apple pie that required a sweeter wine.

Bonus Notes:

Michael Karlin, another of BKWine Magazine’s reporters, tasted a number of vintages of Moulin Touchais some time ago. Here are his comments on those he tried:

2001: Arrack, wet wool, classic Chenin Blanc, almost a hint of acetone

1999: Some arrack & wool but less, more honey, hint of leather

1983: Dried apricot, nuts, caramel, low acidity

1964: Earthy, same style as in 1983, but a little lighter

1959: Similar to 1983, but more mature, fresh and good acidity

1953: Hint of dill, darker tones, good acidity, green edge

1949: Tending towards sherry character, still vital however, caramel

(56, 76, 89 and 97 were hot years. 96 was a vintage high in acidity requiring long ageing. Both the 96 and 97 were good years.)

Roland Eriksson writes on BKWine Magazine on wine tastings with wine merchants and importers in Sweden. Roland is the author of a book on cognac (A Handbook: Cognac, 2007, published in Swedish) and one on rum as well as one on tea.

Scallops with maize

Scallops with maize, copyright Roland Eriksson

Blue cheese dessert

Blue cheese dessert, copyright Roland Eriksson

This post is also available in: Swedish

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