The AWE Blog

The AWE blog is a collection of posts from AWE members.
  1. Geoff Bolton

    One size fits all

    By Geoff Bolton
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    I first worked in a wine shop in 1970, helping out at Christmas time. As an impressionable young man, I found it fascinating enough to inspire a life-long interest. One of the things I remember was the different bottle sizes, something that would be inconceivable in today’s standardised world. I was reminded of this when I picked up Alex Lichine’s Encyclopaedia of Wines and Spirits, 1967 vintage, sorry, edition. I thought the appendix on bottle sizes it would interest our reader, as it did me. I list all the sizes designated as bottles below. German 70cl; Alsace 72cl; Anjou 75cl; Beaujolais 75cl; Bordeaux 75cl; Burgundy 75cl; USA 75.72cl; Port 75.75cl; Sherry 75.75cl; Champagne 80cl. The last three were also called Quarts which meant that, for Champagne, a half bottle was 40cl, also called a Pint (Two pints making one quart, remember?). Didn’t Pol Roger make a pint of Champagne – and are thinking of doing so again? Why was 75cl (mostly French regions) decided upon as the standard? How did all the 0.072 and 0.075 sizes come about (local glass blowing, perhaps?). Why was the three-quarter litre size adopted instead of the half and full litre? Other interesting names were...
  2. Dr. Helen Savage

    Chenonceaux: The Cream of Touraine

    By Dr. Helen Savage
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    Given the French love of place it was inevitable that smaller, sub-regions should gradually be distinguished within the sprawling appellation of Touraine. Some of these seem to represent little more than local pride, but Chenonceaux represents something special. It is the best wine of the Cher Valley, made on the best sites, on both banks, with the best soils, most of which are literally in sight of the river. The sites are all on slopes, the soils are marked by a high level of flinty stone, with clay and limestone. The excellence of site clearly gives the wines potential, but the winemaking also sets them apart. White wines, roughly 60% of the production, made from Sauvignon (in practice Sauvignon Blanc) may not be bottled until the 30th April following the harvest. Maturation on the fine lees, combined with a policy of picking relatively late harvest fruit gives them a character less like the Marlborough sur Loire – that typifies so much AOP Touraine – and more like a western outpost of (a rather good) Sancerre. The reds celebrate the presence of Côt (Malbec) in this part of the Loire since, they argue, at least the sixteenth century. It must form...
  3. Geoff Bolton

    Loire trip thoughts

    By Geoff Bolton
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    AWE wine trip thoughts. I have just spent four days in the Loire wine region of France with five fellow wine-educators, three of whom are currently studying for their Master of Wine exams. We visited seven wine makers who gave us tours of the vineyards and wine-making facilities as well as arranging tastings of their wines. We tasted about thirty wines per day and asked technical questions about the wines. It was my maiden AWE trip; my thoughts are below. When tasting for commercial reasons, it must be difficult for a wine buyer to remain objective and not ‘go native’. In a cellar, in front of an enthusiastic grower and trying the twelfth Cabernet Franc of that morning, the wine can taste and smell wonderful. “It’s so much richer than Cabernet number three, not as mineral as number one because it is grown in clay, hand harvested and kept in oak for twelve months”. However, will all this be experienced by Mr Jones taking it from the shelf at Asda on a Friday night? Probably not. How do buyers (and I’ve never bought commercially) remain ‘end-user focused’? The enthusiasm – not to mention their generosity – of wine growers is...
  4. Dr. Gareth Morgan

    Langlois-Chateau – the “Bollinger of the Loire”

    By Dr. Gareth Morgan
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    The town of Saumur, sited directly on the Loire, is the leading centre for the traditional method sparkling wines of the Loire region – some of it under the classic appellation of Saumur Mousseau, but increasingly under the more demanding appellation of Crémant de Loire (which requires lower yields, and more time for the secondary fermentation and ageing sur lattes). On the north-west side of Saumur lies the village of St Hilaire St Florent (nowadays effectively a suburb of Saumur), the leading centre for Crémants.  Both architecturally, and in terms of the wines produced, it has many parallels with Epernay. In July 2017, on a scorching hot day (with temperatures reaching 38C – unusually hot for the Loire) a small AWE group led by Dr Helen Savage visited the property Langlois-Chateau (www.langlois-chateau.fr) under a programme arranged with Inter-Loire.  Langlois-Chateau is sometimes described as “the Bollinger of the Loire” – as the property is owned by Groupe Bollinger and has benefited from much investment and technical expertise from Bollinger. We were received by Isabelle Heritou who explained that the name of the estate is not a reversal of ‘Chateau Langlois’ (there is no obvious château here) – rather it is a combination...