Coteaux-du-Layon, a great sweet white wine from the Loire
On the banks of the Layon, a tributary of the left bank of the Loire, the vines benefit from a climate that favours the development of "noble rot". This phenomenon allows for a high concentration of sugar and gives rise to great sweet and syrupy white wines with a high ageing potential. The Coteaux-du-Layon, AOC of the Loire Valley, is definitely one of them. This nectar with its rich aromas of honey, fruit and flowers dazzles the taste buds as an aperitif and with dessert. Discover this appellation of the Loire Valley vineyards.
General presentation of coteaux-du-layon
The coteaux-du-layon appellation area is located in the Anjou-Saumur vineyards, in the Maine-et-Loire region, south-west of Angers. Some 27 communes produce this AOC, which allows only Chenin Blanc, the flagship grape of Loire white wines.
The vineyards stretch along the hillsides on either side of the Layon river. The local climate and the shallow soils favour harvests that are very rich in sugar, due to the over-ripening of the grapes and botrytisation. The formation of this "noble rot" is essential for these sweet white wines of which the Coteaux-du-Layon is a proud representative. In the absence of "noble rot", it is the passerillage on the stump that allows the concentration of sugar. This technique consists of exposing the grapes to the sun so that they naturally concentrate in sugar. It should be noted that only the presence of noble rot allows the "selection de grains nobles" label.
With its 1,600 hectares, the coteaux-du-layon vineyard is the largest in the Anjou wine region. The appellation contrôlée can be followed by the name of the commune where the wine originated. These names are: Beaulieu, Faye, Rablay, Rochefort, Saint-Aubin and Saint-Lambert. It should be noted that Rochefort-sur-Loire produces another appellation, the sweet white wine quarts-de-chaume AOC. Finally, within the coteaux-du-layon appellation there is also the AOC chaume Premier Cru.
Characteristics of coteaux-du-layon
The wines of the coteaux du Layon are greedy and unctuous. They are distinguished by their intense and complex aromatic richness, as well as by their freshness and vivacity.
The coteaux-du-layon AOC wines have a yellow colour with green reflections in their youth. As they age, especially if they are produced from noble rot, the colour becomes golden with amber highlights.
These sweet white wines can be recognised by their aromas of quince, pear and honey. Other scents enrich this bouquet, depending on the terroir and the vintage: white fruits such as peach, exotic fruits such as pineapple or mango, citrus fruits such as grapefruit, flowers such as acacia, hawthorn and rose. As the wines age, they can develop rare aromas, such as precious inlaid wood, bergamot and hints of almond.
A coteaux-du-layon can be kept perfectly well in bottle from 5 years to several decades, even a century for the best vintages.
How to taste a coteaux-du-layon
A well-balanced, frank and fresh soft white wine, a coteaux-du-layon AOC naturally accompanies foie gras. It is therefore perfect for festive starters and gourmet aperitifs: foie gras toast, salmon verrines, pan-fried foie gras...
For cheeses, choose blue-veined cheeses: Fourme d'Ambert, Roquefort, etc.
It is also the perfect ally for many desserts. Crèmes brûlées and all frangipane or almond paste based cakes go perfectly with a coteaux-du-layon. All desserts based on white fruit (peach, pear, apple) or yellow fruit (apricot, mirabelle), exotic fruit (pineapple) or red fruit (strawberry, raspberry) also go very well with this white wine from the Loire.
To serve, a Coteaux-du-Layon generally needs to be decanted, especially if it is rich and concentrated. It is advisable to drink it at a temperature of between 8° and 12°.