Discover our Charentais wines, Pineau and Cognac. Discover the production of these wines in the Royan region.
What is the IGP "Charentais wines"
It is the name of theProtected Geographical Indication (PGI) recognized since 2009 at red, rosé and white Charentais wines. It meets a certain number of quality criteria established in specifications validated by the public authorities. This european label guarantees in particular that the harvesting of the grapes, their transformation and the elaboration of the wines are carried out in Charente and Charente Maritime. In these two departments, between 1 and 500 hectares are included in the perimeter of the IGP. The text also sets other standards in terms of vinification and production yield. It authorizes the use of 26 grape varieties, which are special varieties resulting from crosses that are sometimes very old. We find in particular Colombard, Sauvignon and Ugni (for the whites), Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Merlot (for the reds) for example.
Cognac and Pineau des Charentes
The PGI does not include the spirits like Cognac, nor the liqueur wines such as Pineau des Charentes. On the other hand, these two prestigious beverages, intrinsically linked to the historical regions of Poitou, Aunis and Saintonge, both benefit from a Controlled Designation of Origin. It is an even stricter label which devotes a particular know-how and local customs attached to a terroir. Moreover, the respective AOC zones of Cognac and Pineau correspond with perfect accuracy. From a very large western half of the department of Charente, they encompass the whole of Charente-Maritime passing through the country of Royan. They overflow to the north on the southern fringe of the Deux-Sèvres, and to the south on a sector located on the edge of the Dordogne.
How is Cognac made? What grape varieties are used?
Le Cognac is the result of a "double heating" low-alcohol wine. And followed by a minimum aging of two years in oak barrels. This technique, initiated in the Charente in the XNUMXth century, then perfected the distillation methods imported into the region during the Renaissance. The operation was intended to improve the conservation of Charente wine, the quality of which was then suffering from the length of transport. Today, we produce in particular this calvados from the Ugni blanc grape variety, included in the PGI. THE National Interprofessional Office (BNIC) represents, promotes and protects the AOC “Cognac”. It defends the interests of more than 4 winegrowers, distillers and merchants involved in the appellation.
How is Pineau made? What grape varieties are used?
Le Pineau des Charentes is the fruit of a scientist blend of grape must and Cognac eau-de-vie. Le pressing is done at the end of the harvest to produce a white Pineau and after maceration of the grapes to obtain a red Pineau. The Cognac is then added up to approximately 30% of the mixture and then the product aged, which must be aged in oak barrels. The varieties used range from Ugni, Montis and Colombard (for white Pineaux), to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (for red or rosé Pineaux). For a Pineau to benefit from the AOC, grape must and Cognac must come from the same vineyard.
How old is the production of wine in the region?
The first traces of viticulture gradually become the dominant productions in the territory. They are identified from the Gallo-Roman period, more than a millennium before Pineau des Charentes and Cognac were “invented”. The local vineyard, initially concentrated in Saintonge, began its first take-off from the second half of the XNUMXth century, at the instigation of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her husband Henry II Plantagenet, also King of England. Through him, Charente wine then found new outlets with the nobility of Northern Europe.
The boom in activity is felt with the appearance of more and more farms along the river. It is an economic axis for the transport of goods intended for export, in particular the commercial port of Royan. It is from this period (XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries) that the development of more qualitative grape varieties dates. Le Colombard, born from a natural cross between Chenin blanc (from the banks of the Loire) and Gouais.
After a period of decline linked to phylloxera, the wine sector regained momentum from the 1970s. Quality productions were notably awarded the appellation "Vin de Pays Charentais" in 1981. This label corresponds since 2009 to the Protected Geographical Indication “Charentais wines”. Be that as it may, the love of wine continues to be passed down from generation to generation. Discover the history of our territory portrait, Mélanie Guérin, winemaker and in love with Destination Royan Atlantique.
Particularities and influences of the Charente soil on the quality of the wines
Most of the production is based on a terroir where the filtering properties of the limestone mingle with the freshness of clay, a fine rock that retains water and also delays the ripening of the grapes. Ultimately, the promise of powerful wines with intact fruitiness. The blackcurrant and plum aromas of Merlot, the citrus, floral and honey accents of Chenin blanc, or the raspberry and violet notes of Cabernet franc...
La Cognac subdivision
The geological nuances from one sector to another are reflected in the subdivision of Cognac into six crus. They are distributed in a series of concentric circles starting from the east of the department of Charente:
- Firstly, located in the heart of the area, the Grande Champagne (in Charente), centered around Segonzac, characterized by a chalky and tender subsoil, produces the finest eaux-de-vie, very long in the mouth
- To the south, to the east, and especially to the west – as far as Pérignac (in Charente-Maritime) – the Little Champagne forms a narrow belt around the previous one: the limestone layers are less thick there than in Grande Champagne and its Cognac, a little less aromatic, ages more quickly
- To the north of the town of Cognac and on the right bank of the river, the Petit Cru des borders (12 ha) is characterized in particular by a partially decalcified subsoil, covered by flint clay. Its eau-de-vie gives off a very particular aroma of violets
- On the outskirts of these three sectors, the Fins bois therefore extend over a wide area, from Saintes to the west, Angoulême to the east, and Saint-Jean d'Angély to the north: on the surface, their land of groy comes from a hard limestone subsoil. Their Cognacs offer a little more volume in the mouth.
- Always further south and west (to the sea). The appellations, based on soils less rich in limestone, do not have the same finesse as the previous crus but provide the wine with a round texture in taste, this is particularly the case for the cru des Good Wood. Finally, the raw “Ordinary Woods or Local Woods” come from productions located on the coastal fringe of the region, between Royan and Ile de Ré. They are accentuated with a hint of salt.
Looking backcagainst Charentais, Pineau and Cognac wine producers
Mediafixer winegrowers of Destination Royan Atlantique therefore share their know-how during visits accompanied by a tasting. The opportunity to discover all the richness of the terroir and the diversity of products. As an accompaniment to main dishes, from aperitifs to digestives, Charentais wines, Pineau and Cognac go well together perfectly around the pleasures of the table.
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