Sunday, 22 June 2014
With James Millton (Millton Vineyards, NZ) in the Loire (20.6.2014)
Biodynamic Duo: François Chidaine with James
outside La cave insolite (François wine shop in Montlouis)
It has been a busy but hugely enjoyable few days showing James Millton (Millton Vineyards in New Zealand) around part of Touraine as well as some of the vineyards of Anjou. It has been fascinating as James naturally looks at vines, soils, etc. with the eye both of a vigneron and as a producer, who needs to make a profit to remain in business, so you become aware of different aspects and different questions arise.
James arrived on Thursday evening around 9pm. The French rail strike had attempted to stop or, at least complicate, his first visit to the Loire for 19 years. Fortunately they failed, though the train he was due to catch was cancelled but he was able to get one that run two hours later.
Thursday night we also had Gerry Dawes, writer and Spanish expert,
and his partner Kay staying with us. Gerry is wondering
why his glass is empty as we await James' arrival.
This temporary problem was soon sorted
As Millton Vineyards is the only New Zealand producer to make serious Chenin Blanc we concentrated on visiting a range of people in Montlouis and Vouvray. Millton has been biodynamic for 30 years, so we started with François Chidaine concentrating on some of his 110 different parcels of vines. Time constraints meant that we stuck to Montlouis, so missed the Clos Baudouin in Vouvray where James did the 1995 harvest with Prince Poniatowski, the then owner, as well as the AC Touraine vines at Chissay in the Cher Valley.
Very much a hands on visit – looking at cover crops, soils -
their smell and the root system including the elasticity of individual roots.
François was very relieved that he had got safely through two major hurdles – no frost despite early budbreak and the flowering, which was getting close to being finished over quickly and evenly in lovely sunny conditions.