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1885 Moulin Touchais
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- Closure: Cork
- Masterpieces of the Nineteenth Century –
The Grandfather Wines Of Moulin Touchais.
To offer a one hundred year guarantee on a bottle of table wine would seem to be a foolish proposition, particularly when one considers the logistics behind the offer. The first doubt that comes to mind stems from the fact that very few wines are in fact capable of lasting that long, and even if one could find such a wine, what guarantee is there that the company making such an offer will be in business in one hundred years time? Then there is the simple arithmetic problem that even a school boy can work out. How many of us are going to live a hundred years, and if we do, will we have the mental awareness to appreciate what we are drinking?There is one wine producer who has overcome all of these doubts. That producer is Moulin Touchais from the Loire Valley in France.
The sweet wines of Moulin Touchais are all made from Chenin Blanc, which surprisingly, is not botrytized. The Chenin is picked in two batches, the first lot harvested around eighty days after flowering, which results in the grapes being unripe and very high in acidity. The second lot of grapes are harvested at on hundred and twenty days after flowering, by which time the acidity has dropped right off but the grapes are loaded with sugar. The acidity is the key to the wines longevity – and in many ways this type of winemaking can be compared with the Semillons from the Hunter Valley, which are picked at very high acid levels and bottle aged for a minimum of 5 years. Clare Valley Rieslings follow a similar pattern, but in both cases there is little possibility of a hundred years bottle life. Moulin Touchais ferment each of the wines separately around September to November, and leave them in neutral storage until around March the following year. The wines are bottled and then allowed to age for a minimum of 10 years prior to release. So the 2004 vintage will be available for sale in 2014.
So what guarantee is there, even under these winemaking conditions, that the wines will live 100 years? The answer to that question can only be revealed by tasting old bottles of Moulin Touchais. We recently conducted such a tasting in Melbourne at Jacque Reymond Restaurant. Thirteen vintages were assembled – many of these wines were previously tasted and full tasting notes are available on our website www.nicks.com.au. The wines tasted were from the following vintages: 1994, 1992, 1990, 1989, 1985, 1982, 1977, 1975, 1971 and 1959. The highlights were the Grandfathers: 1892, 1885 and 1872. These wines were all re corked and re waxed then air freighted to Australia several months prior to the tasting. We must admit that a certain degree of anxiety accompanied these rare wines and we hoped that they would be more than Vinous Currios. For those of you whose arithmetic skills are doubtful, the age of the wines were 112 years, 119 years and 132 years. We are told that the oldest wine remaining in the cellar of Moulin Touchais is from 1823. So what did these wines taste like? Interestingly, at 100 years of age, the wines are probably still not at their peak. In a word, they were described by wine critic, James Halliday as being ‘euphoric’!
Tasting Notes: This wine was the highlight of the tasting and in spite of its age showed no signs of drying out and still supported by an excellent level of acidity. Sienna brown colour showing its considerable age, but by no means overdeveloped. Superb nose of toffee and caramel that evolves after a few minutes with honey amontillado end notes. The palate delivers a powerful flavour profile, complex layers of honey, toffee, orange rind overlaid with hints of rancio and amontillado like sherry. The palate displays a sweetness that is comparable to the 1959 Moulin Touchais. The acidity gives the wine a remarkable length and depth. Perfect balance, with a very long honey, toffee and orange rind aftertaste. A euphoric tasting experience!