Saturday, May 26, 2012
When I took on our first property in the Marais, I searched and searched for what to call it. I love trying to come up with a name that I hope will be catchy for future guests and which has some sort of significance. The apartment is located on rue du Petit Thouars close to metro Temple and like all street names in Paris, or all in France for that matter, it is named after either a person, a battle or a region. In this case, it is a name of a person. So who was this du Petit Thouars (the street name is actually written Dupetit Thouars - the spelling which was used during the Revolution)? Aubert du Petit Thouars was a botanist (hence why I went with Fleur du Petit Thouars as the name of the apartment), who specialized in orchids and is responsible for identifying and cataloging quite a few. This is a family history rich with admirals, captians and scientists.
But this is a post about wine. So forgive the divergence and bear with me.
It was on the Twitter wall that I "met" D'Arcy du Petit Thouars, wife of Sébastien du Petit Thouars, 12th generation of his family. She had contacted me asking if I would be interested in offering their wines to our apartment guests given that they were the du Petit Thouars and the apartment was on rue Dupetit Thouars. I was amused and intrigued and I thought, why not. It would certainly give us an interesting anecdote to add into our greetings. I always make sure to let the guests know that the wine comes from the chateau, located in the Loire Valley, of the family for whom the street is named after.
The history of the chateau dates back to 1636 but the present day vineyard began its historical course just over 35 years ago. Today the vineyard represents 15-hectacres (30 acres) of vines in the clay and limestone plateau of Saint‐Germain‐Sur‐Vienne (Loire Valley).
At the helm of their wine production is the winemaker is Michel Pinard, who built his reputation working for more than ten years alongside the famous Chinon winemaker Charles Joguet. They produce two different red wines “cuvées” (Réserve and Sélection), available in several vintages, as well as a rosé and two crémants (white and rosé) - Average Yield: 35‐40 ho / ha
I sat down with Sébastien du Petit Thouars, who had been kind enough to provide us with some sample bottles for us to make the selection among their prestigious collection of wines. Sébastien is passionate about wine and eager to share his knowledge both about French wines (the Chateau's in particular), as well as his family history.
Tell me a bit about the history of the Chateau:
The Chateau du Petit Thouars was built by the dukes of La Trémoïlle as a hunting lodge - these were the dukes of Thouars. It was a family of gentlemen. George Aubert, a diplomatic envoy/spy, worked for Cardinal de Richelieu. It was the cardinal who helped him obtain the land in 1634. They were granted the title of du Petit Thouars when the land was purchased and officially registered by the court. George Aubert thus became Aubert du Petit Thouars du St George.
Has there always been a vineyard at the chateau?
Sébastien's great grandmother had the first vines but mainly for personal consumption. It was in 1975 that Sebastien's parents planted new vines and slowly built them up into a proper exploitation. Today the vineyard totals 15 hectacres (30 acres).
What is vineyard's production rate?
Chateau du Petit Thouars produces 60-70 thousand bottles depending on yield, per year. We produce mostly red wines, still rosé and sparkling wines (white & rosé).
How old are your vines? 36 years old
Do you use oak barrels?
We have two different cuvé (production lines), for red and 1 for rosé. Cuvé selection wines do not go through oak. They are elaborated from the free run juice (first juice that's collected before crushing the grapes). They are fermented and vinified in stainless steel tanks, then ages 9 months - Grape to bottle. This results in a fruity less complex wine.
Cuvé Réserves are fermented in stainless steel tanks but are vinified [turned into wine], and aged in oak barrels that have been previously used for 2-3 wines. It is a blend of free run and juice from the crushing of grapes. Grape to bottle is 24 months. The reserve is at its best 3-5 years after bottling.
The rosé is fermented in big oak casks called "foudre".
What grapes do you use for your cuvé?
Cabernet Franc for the red, rosé & sparkling wines and Chenin blanc for the whites (for which we are expecting harvest in 2013).
Are your wines similar to other wines of your production region?
Our wines do not show the tipicity of the AOC [Appellation d'origin controlé - definition here] we are in, which is the AOC Touraine. In fact they have more in common with with the wines produced from grapes of Chinon, Saumur & Bourgueil (sp check). Typical of the Cabernet Franc are strong tannins, nice length & structure and good aging potential. They produce a wine with a dense red fruit aroma and flavor.
The terroir they have is a very strong clay & limestone mix on a hilltop, making for wines with strong personality. The advantage in the long run is that the wine will age well but the disadvantage is that people want something easy to drink. It therefore requires an extra process and the grapes need to be aged longer.
Is it possible to visit the winery and chateau?
The public is welcome to come and visit the cellars and taste the wines by appointment however the chateau is private.
Have you always been interested in wine?
Sébastien worked in the music industry for 10 years before joining the family business. He was part of an independent record label producing mostly house music.
There are a lot of things in common with the music and wine industry, He says. France is blessed with an extraordinary terroir and variety of wine and grapes. His parents had always encouraged him to encouraged him to explore. The dedication and attention to detail in the nurturing of the vines and production of the wine, reminded him of the attention needed when recording a musician. You would need to know the technical aspects, the equipment and to have patience - to wait for greatness I would imagine.
"The magic of wine like good music changes with time and space."
In speaking about the time necessary for the grape to bottling of wines, he says,
"Wine is not just a craftsmanship where people will buy and store bottles at length. People are less patient, they are pickier and want something as drink ready as possible.
It is a competitive industry with the influx of foreign producers [French wine producers have to find their edge]. It is felt less so within France but a lot more in export."
What are your recommended pairings for the wines you've presented us?
We held a little taste test with the chefs at the school to get their opinion on the best selection for our guests. In the end we went with the Reserve Red 2009 and the Crémant Brut Blanc.
Enjoyed by our Fleur du Petit Thouars guests is the RESERVE RED 2009
This wine received a commendation at the 2011 Decanter World Wine
Awards and is featured in the guidebook to the Best Wines under
20 euro published by La Revue du Vin de France.
Following the Reserve 2006, the 2009 will be distributed in Colorado
from the 1st semester onwards
Robe: Shiny garnet robe
Nose: Distinct and characteristic, combining ripe red fruits and raspberry
Mouth: freshness, balanced structure, lovely fruit maturity, light and delicate oak note. Tannins are present yet not too firm and bound to soften even more with ageing.
Long and pleasant finish. You can keep it for at least five years or enjoy it now with charcuterie, white meats, roast chicken, a leg of lamb, goat cheeses (such as Sainte‐Maur), red fruit desserts.
CRÉMANT BRUT BLANC (sparkling wine)
This “blanc de noir” crémants is made from handpicked cabernet‐franc grapes following the traditional champagne method. The bottles are then horizontally stored for 2 years.
Robe: lime‐tree yellow.
Nose: pleasant, straightforward white flowers aromas
Mouth: very small bubbles, nice finish with mineral notes.
A charming wine for all occasions: as an aperitif, at the end of your meal, or
as a post‐dinner drink.
"Pairing evolves with the age of the wine due to the evolution of the tannins."
I asked Sébastien to share with us some of his Paris favorites. Always a good way for us to add to our own list.
What is your favorite place to eat in Paris?
I love cooking so don't go out to restaurants often. But he does like nice classic bistros: Bistro Paulbert, Chez Georgette in the 9th (interesting 50s deco), Casa Olympe, Glou in the Marais, The bistro La Touraine which he thinks has the best steak tartar, Le Miroir in the 18th, Olio Pane Vini (Italian).
Favorite drink spot? Vendôme Hyatt has really nice (but expensive) cocktails. l'Hôtel in rue des Beaux Art (has nice gin tonics), Candelaria (small but nice).
French Wine can be intimidating for quite a number of people, How would you advice a novice to approach French wines? Start with Champagne", I couldn't agree more, "or white wine that is not too sweet. He goes on to name Beaujolais Morgan côte du Puy by Marcel Lapierre or Jean Foillard's organic wine Vin du soif which is a great wine to open with friends. It's easy and drinkable. For Champagne, he recommends, Drappier zero dosage as he prefers, as he puts it, "Champagnes that are really wines first." Drappier is around 25€.
For more information on Chateau du Petit Thouars' wines visit their site
Where to find Chateau du Petit Thouars' wines in France and beyond, click here!
Posted by Yetunde at 13:00
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