30 March 2013

Wines from Domaine de la Renne

Two of the wines that I bought at the Domaine de la Renne in Saint-Romain-sur-Cher a few days ago were not at all the Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Gamay, or Cabernet Franc you might expect. One was a rosé wine made with a grape called Pineau d'Aunis, and the other was a white made from Chardonnay grapes

Pineau d'Aunis is a local specialty here in the Loire Valley. It's also called Chenin Noir, apparently. It's planted here in the Cher River valley around Mareuil, Saint-Romain, and Saint-Aignan, and also up north of Blois around Vendôme in the Loir River Valley. That's Loir, not Loire — they are two different rivers.

Pineau d'Aunis can be made into red wine, but it's a thin, lightly colored red at best. Most of it is made into rosé, and it's a delicious rosé — light, very dry, and slightly peppery or spicy. The rosé wines made in this part of Touraine are often very dry and light, making them much more pleasant to drink with food or as an apéritif in hot weather than sweeter rosés are. A lot of the local rosés are made with Cabernet Franc or Gamay Noir grapes, but the Pineau d'Aunis rosés are the really typical, special, unusual ones.

Some Chardonnay is grown around the Saint-Aignan area, but not an awful lot. The local white wine grape that has an AOC is Sauvignon Blanc. Touraine Sauvignon is what the region is best known for. Chardonnay around here often goes into a blend of grapes used to make local sparkling wines, with Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and even some Pinot Noir. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the AOC grapes of Burgundy and Champagne, which have a colder climate than the Loire Valley's.

The wine cooperative in Saint-Romain makes and sells good Chardonnay wine, either in bottles or in bulk (you take your containers in and they fill them from the cuves — the big tanks, either stainless steel, fiberglass, or concrete, in which the wine is kept before bottling). And it turns out that Domaine de la Renne, also in Saint-Romain, grows enough Chardonnay for use in making its sparkling wines as well as some to put in bottles as still white wine too.

Notice that the rosé is Appelation Contrôlée, but the Chardonnay white is simply
a vin de pays, a local wine that doesn't have the more prestigious AOC label.

Domaine de la Renne doesn't sell wine in bulk — no filling of the customer's containers at the winery — but some years they produce enough Chardonnay grapes to be able to package some of the still wine in bag-in-box containers. Wine is less expensive packaged that way because you don't have to pay for bottles, labels, and corks. You also don't have to deal with recycling the bottles (we don't have curbside pickup, so we have to haul all that stuff to the recycling center ourselves). The plastic bag inside the wine box collapses upon itself as wine is drawn out, meaning that the remaining wine doesn't come into contact with air, which would spoil it fairly quickly. Wine in the bag-in-box can last for several weeks or even months.


  1. I've heard that the area of Pineau d'Aunis will be affected by the new Touraine rules (ie get smaller). It's a shame.

  2. Hi Susan, I'm not really up on the latest regulations on Pineau d'Aunis, but Jim Budd probably is. Here's a link to Pineau d'Aunis topics on Jim's wine blog.

  3. We are real fans of Pineau d'Aunis rosé. As you point out it is a great summer wine especially if you prefer a dry wine as we do.

  4. Thanks Ken. I trawled through Jim's posts. The change is that 100% Pineau d'Aunis is no longer allowed under Touraine rules. I'm guessing this will lead to some reduction of hectarage for the variety, and certainly to fewer really distinctive rosés from the area. Definitely a shame, and quite a peculiar change.

  5. Susan, I'll have to go and talk to Bruno and Patricia at Domaine de la Renaudie, who make a nice Pineau d'Aunis called Perle de Rosée, and also the people at Domaine de la Renne, to see what they have to say about the new Pineau d'Aunis rules. That'll have to be after my return from the Carolinas in later April.

  6. "contact with air, which would spoil it fairly quickly" What happened to exposing the wine to air to "breathe"? We once had a French women refuse our wine because we hadn't opened it an hour before she got there.

  7. Starman, yes, on old or a tannic wine needs to "breathe" for an hour or even a little longer before you drink it, but not for days and days! Overexposure to air will cause the wine to oxidize and then turn to vinegar.

    A good way to aerate a wine more quickly before drinking it is to decant it, which means pouring it slowly into a carafe or pitcher. That's exactly what drawing wine out of the bag-in-box does.

    That French woman who refused your unaerated wine was rude. All she needed to do was pour some wine into a glass and swirl it around, letting it sit for a few minutes before sipping some to taste it. It would have breathed in the glass, and if she still didn't find it up to her lofty standards, she could have just left it in the glass or said something polite about not really feeling up to drinking wine that day. Not all wines need to breathe, anyway.


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