Anjou > Sweet Wines of Anjou
Sweet Wines of Anjou
Western Anjou is home to some of France’s greatest vineyards for fine sweet wine: Coteaux du Layon, Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux. The only grape allowed in these appellations is the Chenin Blanc.
The vineyards are planted on mineral rich schist, on steep slopes above the Layon river, facing south and south-west for maximum light and warmth in autumn. These last two factors are essential for the development of botrytis cynerea, a micro-organism, also known as “noble rot” that, is essential to the production of great sweet wines. It weakens the grape skins and allows water to evaporate, making the remaining juice intensely sweet and concentrated. In years when botrytis is present, harvest is postponed for maximum ripeness and sweetness. Often the pickers will go through the vineyards several times, individually selecting which grapes will be harvested that day and which will be left on the vine to ripen further. An ill-timed rain will cause the grapes to rot on the vine and a sudden frost will destroy the crop. This means that quantities are always limited.
The wines are fermented slowly, at cool temperatures, to maximize their fruit aromas, and are usually bottled quite young to keep the fruit flavors as lively as possible.