Château de Fesles is located in the Loire Valley’s Thouarcé district in the Anjou region, very close to the tiny village of Bonnezeaux and in between the Layon (which lies 1.5km to the south) and Loire (18 km to the north) Rivers.
The chateau’s original buildings go back almost 1000 years to 1070, although the current buildings were built in the 1800s. It’s a pretty impressive set up as the pictures we took illustrate. We visited the property in June 2014 while touring world-famous Bonnezeaux and Quarts du Chaume AOCs and were fortunate to meet winemaker Gilles Bigot and have him lead us through a tasting of 12 different wines.
Fourteen of the property’s 33 ha are classified as AC Bonnezeaux and these 14 are on the hill slope beside the chateau. All the vines are Chenin Blanc. The soil here is stony and covered by a mixture of shale and clay (blue and red). The topsoil is shallow and rocky.
The unique micro-climate afforded by the nearby Layon river means morning mists, especially in autumn, encourage botrytis (‘noble rot’) on the grapes and the long, warm afternoons allow them to dry. The cycle repeats itself each day until harvest when the grapes are hand-picked over the course of several ‘tries’ or passes through the vineyard as they become ripe for picking. These regions are renowned for some of the best and most long-lived examples of the world’s sweet wines.
This is a 100% Chenin Blanc wine made of nobly rotted grapes hand-selected over a series of 6 vineyard passes. The wine, a limited edition bottle (#00235) spent 15 months in oak barrels before being bottled.
A beautiful medium amber with slow legs, this medium sweet wine has medium plus aromas of hay, red apples, creamed honey and wet rocks. Savoury wet wool and beeswax rounded out the classic Chenin Blanc flavours with some Demerara and burnt sugar alongside lemon juice and apricot. The medium plus acidity showcases a refreshing and mouthwatering wine in spite the sweetness.
The ‘gasp’ factor on this wine was audible – the room lost quite a bit of oxygen when everyone first smelled and then tasted it. Complex, beautifully balanced and developing, it had a long finish that was augmented even further by the dried apricots, Cambazola and Gran Padano cheeses we paired with it. Already 15 years old, this wine is destined for further ageing; drinking beautifully and still has a window of 5-7 years on it.