The adage, “a wine gets better with age,” never rang more true than for the wines of Moulin Touchais. Regarded as the most extraordinary of the Loire’s Coteaux du Layons, the vins moelleux from this historic estate are said to age well for 50 to 100 years. Jean-Marie Touchais is the eighth generation of his family to direct Moulin Touchais since 1787, working 150 hectares of vines—only 25% of which are devoted to AOC Coteaux du Layon. In the same tradition as Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux, the other sweet Chenin Blanc-based appellations of the Loire Valley, the microclimate of the the Coteaux du Layon’s south-facing, schistous slopes are known to cause botrytis. Unlike the majority of its neighbors, however, the vineyards at Moulin Touchais are less subject to noble rot, yet enjoy a superb sweetness and freshness that sets them apart.
The secret to the longevity of the wines is their unique picking schedule, stainless steel vinifications, and early bottlings. The grapes are picked in two waves: one small harvest 80 days after flowering and the second at 120 days. The grapes from the early harvest provide massive acidity and structure which is then blended with the bulk of the harvest that is picked at optimum ripeness for late-harvest Chenin. The grapes are pressed gently by pneumatic press and then are allowed to settle and clarify before undergoing fermentation in stainless steel. The residual sugar levels of the finished wines average 8.5% per liter and are generally bottled in April following the harvest. The bottles then age in their pristine cellars for ten years before release. The Touchais family is known for their tremendous library of old vintages, said to house over one million bottles.