Fri 24 Jun 2011

A Man For All Seasons

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A few of the 1860 paraffin heaters

A few of the 1860 paraffin heaters

Sebastian Payne MW and I were welcomed by Sébastien Ratron, winemaker at Clos des Cordeliers, Domaine Ratron just outside the village of Saumur-Champigny in the Loire. Here he grows 100% cabernet franc primarily for red but also a little rosé and crémant rosé. We stock his Clos des Cordeliers 2009.

Weather is always a challenge. In winter he puts out 1,860 paraffin heaters around his vineyard, all attached to a piping network to carry ‘le fuel’. This won’t prevent a really hard frost damaging the crop but will raise the temperature by a few degrees so is definitely worth the full week it takes to rebuild the heaters each year, and the week to disassemble them in Spring.

Permanent piping for the fuel – we thought this was for irrigation at first (which is of course not allowed in the region)!

At the moment though it’s the dryness and the heat that is causing worry – he reckons the crop is 3-4 weeks ahead of normal and he is praying for rain as they have not had any since May 2nd. Sébastien says that he’s expecting lower yields though high quality due to the concentration and deep vine roots.

If it does however rain a lot, as it started to the day after we were with him, the underground cellar he has will allow him to go from his house to the winery without getting wet!

Back in the tasting room, Sébastien offered us the wines we know and some we don’t (always an opportunity) and the 2005 and 2001 Clos des Cordeliers which showed how well the wine matures if you can resist temptation for a few years. Coincidentally, we found a magnum of the 2005 in a restaurant that same evening, which shows that the locals know a thing or two too.

Categories : France, Loire, Miscellaneous

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