Tue 16 Oct 2012

Moulin Touchais Vertical, 1953-2003

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Moulin TouchaisIn a recent Grapevine post I mentioned attending an extraordinary tasting of Loire chenin blanc, in the company of Gary Jordan of Jordan Estate in Stellenbosch plus a number of other committed chenin blanc enthusiasts. The tasting, a 30-wine vertical of Coteaux du Layon Moulin Touchais, was organised by fellow Master of Wine Richard Kelley (visit his website if you are a Loire enthusiast) following a recent visit to the property.

These are not the finest or purest expressions of Loire chenin, but Moulin Touchais is unique in giving its wines a minimum of ten years’ bottle age before release. Thus the youngest wine we tasted, the very good 2003 vintage, will only be available from next year. Many of the older vintages, including three from the 1970s are still available for sale. Sadly in most cases, the wines tasted from the 50s and 60s are not, though the oldest wine, the 1953, only sold out this year.

Moulin Touchais wines are also unusual in that they are reasonably, if rather unpredictably, priced, with prices set based on the volume of wine available and how they themselves rate the quality.

Moulin Touchais 1975I am not sure what collective term would be appropriate for the small group of leading Loire wine writers in attendance. A tributary, perhaps. Sarah Ahmed, Jim Budd and Chris Kissack all wrote comprehensive notes on the tasting and the wines which you will find on their websites (just click on the links from their names). My personal favourites were the 2002, a vintage characterised by high levels of acidity and great purity, which was as fresh as a daisy, 1975 – probably the wine of the tasting – and 1971, with many unexpected highlights in between.

The wines are traditionally vinified, using only natural yeasts, no cold stabilisation and no oak, and are bottled early, normally in April following the harvest. Extreme ripeness and heavy botrytis are avoided, and the residual sugar is normally 80-90 grams per litre, ie not high, and often feeling lower still after long years in bottle. Production volumes vary enormously, according to the quality of the vintage, thus around 200,000 bottles were produced in 1959 (perhaps not showing at its best on this occasion), and none at all in 2008. The wines all clearly expressed the differences between vintages.

Moulin Touchais Tasting

It was a rare and fascinating tasting and we are likely to see Moulin Touchais start appearing on UK shelves (virtual or physical) again in the not too distant future. Said ‘shelves’ may or may not include those at The Old Bridge Hotel at Huntingdon, the lovely venue generously provided by owner John Hoskins MW, who admits to being less of a chenin blanc fan himself, but joined us for the tasting nevertheless. After all, a 30-wine vertical does not come along every day!

Joanna Locke MW
Society Buyer

Comments

  1. This intersts as I bought a number of bottles on 1962 Moulin Touche 1962 in the early 80s. It has not been drunk for lack of occasions. I remember at the time tasting ’61 which was superior but sold out when I came to buy more so went with the next vintage. My wine is marked for Anjou. Why so? And did your tasting encompass these years of the sixties?

  2. Andrew says:

    Thank you for this article, which I enjoyed reading and which brought back happy memories. After reading an article in Decanter magazine entitled: “The secret cellar in the Loire” we managed to locate the cellar in Doue-la-Fontaine when we spent a holiday in the Loire valley in 1982. The younger M.Touchais, who was charming and spoke excellent English, showed us around the wonderful cellar and conducted an impromptu tasting for our benefit. Our young children were somewhat awe-struck in these surroundings and my son whispered to me: “Daddy, are we allowed to speak in here?” much to the amusement of our host. We left with several bottles from the 1950s which were very reasonably priced and which we enjoyed greatly on returning to the UK.The sweetness was balanced perfectly with the acidity and frutiness. Any future news of UK stockists would be most welcome.

  3. Kevin Dinol says:

    Thanks for the valuable information about wine , i enjoyed your blog and i will also share this article with my friends.

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