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Simon Hawkins, artisan wine-maker in the tiny Côte Roannaise appellation.
A range of authentic wines from sustainable
viticulture and natural, hands-off wine making.
Simon Hawkins says: “Although our attitude to producing grapes is definitely hands-on, we adopt a completely hands-off approach to the wine making. Having worked hard all year to obtain high quality grapes, there seems to be no point in using all sorts of modern wine-making jiggery-pokery. We just keep it simple and straight forward. Have you ever noticed that, year in year out, wines always have the same alcohol content on the label? This is simply due to a regulating method called chaptalisation. Named after the Minister of Agriculture Jean Chaptal in 1801 this involves adjusting the level of alcohol in wine by adding sugar during the fermentation.Most gamay producers add sugar every year to increase the alcohol content of their wine.”
“By measuring the specific density of the grape juice at harvest time as in this photo, it is possible to determine the natural sugar level. At Domaine du Fontenay, the aim is to achieve a high level of NATURAL SUGAR in the grapes and avoid adding any sugar at all. This is extremely difficult to achieve on a regular basis as it involves keeping yields low and careful vineyard management to maintain rot-free grapes in order to pick as late as possible.
In a nutshell, the wine maker must decide to go:
*EITHER for high yields and pick not perfectly ripe grapes early and add sugar,
*OR to limit yields , pick late, and produce wine with a naturally satisfactory alcohol level.
For obvious reasons, the latter is more natural but is also much more tricky to achieve. It is the option that we prefer at Domaine du Fontenay.”
Have a look at Simon’s very informative website, and take a trip to Domaine du Fontenay in the beautiful Côte Roannaise, or just order a few bottles off the website and enjoy some exceptional quality wine produced with total dedication to the art of winemaking!