Thouarsais wine is a little known denomination which is produced in the very north of Poitou-Charentes. Despite the name the town of Thouars is not actually in the region in which the grapes are grown but somewhat to the north and west. I suppose the region is in effect a satellite of the more famous Saumur and Anjou wines. (You can click on the map for a closer look)
We had a trip up to that region yesterday (23/10/2012). We had faith in the weather forecast which said that the fog would clear and sunshine would prevail. That faith was eventually rewarded. I had done a bit of research on the Thouarsais wines via the internet and by contacting fellow blogger, Helen Aurelius-Haddock. From my endeavours I thought that there was a wine outlet at a place called Les Trois Moutiers. We found a wine outlet on the main road which was promoting wines from Saumur and Anjou. It was also selling wines from Cote de Bourg which is some considerable distance away but no Thouarsais wines. When asked if they stocked any wines from Thouars they looked confused and at first did not seem to know what we were talking about! So we proceeded to Oiron which I had read was home to two producers of the Thouarsais wines. There is a large château in Oiron and there is a very good restaurant. We patronised the restaurant but not the château. The restaurant had wines from the two local producers so we took the opportunity to try a bottle of white wine from La Terre Blanche.
This is produced exclusively from the Chenin Blanc grape and this producer is also Organic- well his grapes are. The wine is quite a rich straw yellow colour and to me it had a distinctive honey aroma and taste. At first you expect it to be sweet due to the association with honey but it is not. It is quite dry and has a reasonable amount of acidity. it is quite distinctive and it went well with our main course, which was a roule of Sole around a fish mousse. For a complete appraisal of the meal and restaurant click on Restaurant review.
After our lunch we walked across the square to the cave of Terres Blanches. It is run by Celine and Benoit Blet and at the side of the door is a telephone with a little notice asking you to phone and either Celine or Benoit would come to let you in. Benoit turned up in about 30 seconds, in his overalls, looking as if he had been busy somewhere out the back with this year’s harvest. He had a very laid back approach-no hard sell here! We told him that we did not need to taste the white wine having just consumed a bottle with lunch but we sampled two of the red. The first was a pure Cabernet Franc called L’Anjou Demon which was fresh and stong flavoured. I would say it was more full than the average Saumur or Anjou red. It was also a deeper red colour which may well be due to a long maceration process and an extended time in the oak barrels. Most of the reds from Chinon, Anjou and Saumur (Cabernet Francs) seem a little lightweight to me, possibly because I tend to drink the more local Bordeaux wines which are a mix of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. We also had a taste of a slightly more mature red which was to my experienced but not very well-trained taste, much more like a fairly rich Bordeaux.
He showed us his neat small cellar with three rows of casks lined up and we listened to the zing issuing from the fermentation which was proceeding rapidly in the first barrel. Two cases were duly purchased and he took our details – name and number and email- so we will no doubt get messages in the future about his wines.
He has a very good web site which I would encourage you to visit as it tells you much more about the history of his vineyard and other wines he produces. They do grape juice (unfermented) so as he says he has something for everyone. Visit http://terres-blanches.fr/
I copied this little snippet from his website. ‘Y a t-il des vignes à Oiron ?
Curnonsky (1872-1956), surnommé « Le Prince des Gastronomes » citait les vins de Oiron et de Bilazais comme des grands vins blancs avec le cépage Chenin.’
There are a few other producers of Thouarsais wines and I apologise to them for not visiting but I will try to do so in due course. There is also a wine known as Petit Thouars which has managed to dominate the internet and always comes up if you google Thouars and wine. This wine may be very good, I have never tried it, but it is a type of Anjou wine and is not part of the Thoursais ADVDQS (region)