Clos des Capucins
We had an exceptional summer with lovely weather through to the autumn. We picked on the 10th October. Although my grappes were ripe, I could have waited longer, but I wasn’t particularly interested in surfing the warm weather to obtain a higher alcoholic degree.
Indeed, the one of the reasons why I like the wines from the Loire Valley is their comparative lightness in alcohol. Between 11.5° 12.5° suits me fine. I’m not into 15% knock out wines.
The Clos des Capucins was de-stemmend, fermented in a vat, pressed after a month, and aged in oak casks – bought second hand in Burgundy at from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
The 2011 yield was small at around 15hl/ha. This was the first year that the vineyard was moving into the organic mode.
I was warned that the first few years the vines would suffer from having their chemicals diet removed. So I pruned the vines severely to give the plant a chance to re-adapt to its new chemical-free life without having too many grapes to feed.
Eminence Grise – Cuvée Avant Premiere 2011
There were only about 300 bottles of this wine. It was the vin de presse, or the wine obtained from the juice when the grapes were pressed. The wine was light and fruity – a perfect wine to drink on a picnic on a river bank. It sold out within a month.
Eminence Grise 2011
The grape juice macerated in a vat for a month and then was then siphoned off into oak casks, cellar aged, and bottled after a year.
I spent three years looking for a top “terroir” in Chinon, before I fell upon the Clos des Capucins. I realised of course the paramount importance of a great ‘terroir’. But quite frankly I didn’t measure just how much the ‘terroir’ counts in the making of a wine. The Capuchin monks certainly had great flair in picking out this fabulous spot for the creation an exceptional wine.
The wine is a deep ruby red. It has depth and finesse. There is a naturally elegant balance between the ripe fruit, the tannins and the backbone of fresh acidity.
The 2011 would be probably better to keep it for 5 to 10 years. However by decanting it, one can force it open up.
This was a difficult vintage because of the weather, wet in the spring and a fairly unpleasant autumn.However I was very proud that my vines produced lovely bunches with hardly any rot at all. The wine is still ageing gently in oak barrels.
It seems to want to take its time. I figured out what I realised rather belatedly with my kids: my role is to accompany, and not to lead the way! So that’s what I’m up to with the 2012. Waiting patiently!
Yet again a very small yield. Throughout the spring we desperately lacked light, and the vines were about three weeks behind schedule. We had a lovely summer, where they managed to catch up, but the cool autumn slowed down the maturation of the grapes.
I risked picking ultra late – a delicate balance between hoping to gain a few sun hours a day, while not suffering too much from the cold nights and the early morning dew. It is clear that we could have done with another week of sunshine. The profile of the vintage will be a lighter wine, probably for quick drinking.
The grapes were picked on October 20th. The bunches were hand sorted with great care to avoid any rotten grapes going into the vat.
The wine is still in a vat, but I will shortly move it into oak casks.
Fiona Beeston’s Perfectly Drinkable
An extra hectare of Chinon
Having bottled my first vintage of Clos des Capucins the 2011, I was in a very frustrating position of telling my customers not to drink my wine for at least 5 years.
This is when both my husband and son put pressure on me to search for another plot of vines, on a lighter soil, that would produce a straightforward quaffable wine that one could … actually drink!
I must admit I was very much against the idea, as I felt I had enough work as it was, adapting to my new ‘paysanne ‘ life!
However I gave into family pressure, and am finally absolutely delighted to be able to produce – and drink – a different style of Chinon.
I purchased one hectare in the appellation Chinon, exactly 3 km from the Clos des Capucins. The vineyard plot belonged to Pascal Lambert – one of the best wine producers in appellation. He planted the vineyard himself over 20 years ago – and it has been organic from day one.
Fiona Beeston’s Perfectly Drinkable Chinon 2012
A straightforward, easy drinking red. The 2012 spent six months in double sized oak casks, locally called des demi-muids.
The wine is organic, and slips down so easily that I bottled quite a lot of it in magnums. As my friend Roger Feuilly, the French food critic, would say a wine of “large soif” – for great thirst!.
The name of the cuvée came from my father. A foreign correspondent often sent to war zones, he learnt never to complain about a wine. As the sommelier would await the verdict in downtown Saigon, Kabul or Baghdad he would always pronounce it to be “perfectly drinkable”, and get on with drinking it!