The Charente vineyards: wines to discover for pleasure
The Charente vineyards are known worldwide for their brandy, cognac. Another local jewel is Pineau des Charentes, a liqueur wine protected by an AOC since 1945. Alongside these two sure values, a wine production is now taking shape which is becoming more and more important. The Charente wines, which benefit from a PGI, are the fruit of long term work carried out by passionate winegrowers. And they are gradually acquiring their letters of nobility, making these wines privileged partners for all the moments of sharing, with family or friends.
General presentation of the Charente vineyard
The Charente vineyard covers two departments of New Aquitaine: Charente-Maritime and Charente. It extends to the north of the famous Bordeaux vineyards, around cities such as Cognac and La Rochelle.
Located north of the famous Bordeaux vineyard, the Charentes vineyard is sometimes attached to it. It is also sometimes linked to the large vineyards of the South West. At times, it is inseparable from the Poitou-Charentes vineyards.
In any case, the Charente vineyard is known worldwide for its cognac, whose "delimited" region corresponds to the two Charentes. The ugni blanc grape variety is largely dominant in the production of this AOC eau-de-vie. To produce white wines, but also red and rosé, the winegrowers have, in the 80's, rediscovered old grape varieties and invited other grape varieties from Bordeaux, Beaujolais and Burgundy, among others. Some thirty years later, their work was distinguished by the award of a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), which replaced the "vin de pays" appellation in 2009.
These wines are produced in the two departments of the Charentes. The PGI Charentais wines can be enriched with one of the following geographical denominations:
- Ile de Ré (Charente-Maritime)
- Ile d'Oléron (Charente-Maritime)
- Saint-Sornin (Charente)
Charentais wines appeared in the 1980s, a period when cognac was in crisis at international and national level. In order to diversify, the winegrowers used new varieties of grape varieties and applied themselves to producing "mouth-watering" wines which, in a few decades, have earned their letters of nobility.
No less than 26 grape varieties are authorised for the PGI Charentais wines, which allows a great diversity of wines. For the reds, Merlot, Cabernet and Cabernet Sauvignon rub shoulders with Gamay, Pinot Noir and Tannat, among others. The whites are dominated by chardonnay, chenin blanc, colombard, semillon and sauvignon.
Charentais wines are generally considered to be "pleasure" wines that can be enjoyed on any occasion, always in the spirit of conviviality that characterises the region.
The vins de pays de l'Atlantique, now called IGP Atlantique, are partly produced in the Charentes departments. Other departments of the Atlantic coast are concerned: the Dordogne, the Gironde and, to a lesser extent, the Lot-et-Garonne. A large number of grape varieties are used to produce wines in all three colours. They are also available en primeur.
Charente and Charente-Maritime have two famous AOCs, which cannot be forgotten.
This brandy is produced in a clearly defined area around the town of Cognac. It covers a large part of the Charente and almost all of the Charente-Maritime. Six different crus are concentrated around Cognac: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois ordinaires. This immense vineyard of 75,000 hectares is mainly planted with ugni blanc, a grape variety marginally joined by colombard and folle blanche.
The cognac eaux-de-vie are aged for at least two and a half years in oak barrels before being blended.
Pineau des Charentes
This liqueur wine, or mistelle, is produced in the two Charentes regions, in an appellation area similar to that of cognac. Pineau des Charentes is a bold blend of grape juice and cognac brandy. It is a mutage wine; this process consists of stopping the fermentation of the grape must in order to preserve all the aromas of the fruit.
Pineau des Charentes is white or rosé. When its colour is dark, it can be called "red". It is most often drunk as an aperitif, especially when it is young.