Viticulture Layon

Chenin Blanc, also called Pineau de la Loire, is the grape variety for all the sweet wines of any Loire appellation producing sweet wines. The vine is very resilient, but its buds sprout early and its grapes mature late. Its vigorous growth must be counteracted with appropriate canopy management, so as to avoid excessive shading of the grapes. For the production of noble sweet wines it is above all well suited because it retains its distinct acidity even with a long maturation period and is prone to Botrytis (noble rot).

Whereas the AC regulations with regard to the minimum number of vines per hectare vary only slightly from 4,000 to 5,000, the maximum yields, minimum alcohol and, above all, the minimum sugar content show greater differences.

The grapes are harvested in several passes, harvesting only overripe and noble-rotten berries, which have about a potential alcohol of 18% to 23%. Some growers separate grapes grown on different soils to show how the soil affects the wine. If the grapes are not attacked by the noble rot, they may also dry on the vine, shrink and thereby concentrate sugar and aromas, and then be harvested. These so dried grapes are called passerillés – they can deliver very distinctive, stylish wines. From with noble rot infested grapes always originate those wines, which are labeled as Sélection de Grains Nobles, if in addition they fulfill further requirements. These wines come from the appellations Coteaux du Layon, Coteaux du Layon Villages and Coteaux du Layon-Chaume. Wines from Quarts de Chaume may have Grand Cru on its labels. Premier Cru are wines from the municipality of Chaume that meet the requirements of the AC Coteaux du Layon-Chaume.

Some manufacturers make their wines with the least possible influence of oxygen in order to preserve the floral-fruity aromas. Other wine growers prefer to grow them in small wood. The prescribed minimum ripening period usually lasts around two to nine months, only the Sélection de Grains Nobles must mature at least until June 1 of the second year after the harvest, so about 18 – 20 months.

Learn more about Sweet wine regions of the Loire, its Sweet wines and Tastings of sweet wines of the Loire.