Moulin Touchais, Coteaux du Layon 1996
Chenin Blanc｜Loire Valley, France
Your eyes don’t deceive you – this is a full-sized, 750-ml bottling of rare dessert wine from one of the best vintages and most coveted regions of the Loire river valley: Coteaux du Layon.
Chenin Blanc is capable of reaching great heights in numerous incarnations, from bone-dry, still examples, delicious sparkling wines, and of course dessert wine of unparalleled character. The defining trait of the finest dessert wines is botrytis, AKA “noble rot,” responsible for shriveling the grapes, concentrating flavor, and manifesting the apricot, honeyed, one-of-a-kind notes that such wines evince. Proximity to a river and its cool, botrytis-inviting mists is key, and Moulin Touchais has just such a fortunate location along the Layon tributary of the grand Loire river.
The wine inside is capable of further aging, but if you enjoy it now you’ll be rewarded with layered, rich, exotic notes of baked red apple, honey-glazed walnuts, dried apricot, and white-flower potpourri. The palate is sumptuous, decadent, and rich, yet buoyed by that trademark singing acidity that buzzes across the palate, leaving you wanting a sip more. And rather than pair with a sweet dessert, think outside the box and stage this wine alongside a country pâté, grilled pork chops with plumped nectarines, or a rich, bloomy-rind brie.
With a history of wine making going back to 1787, this singular estate is still run by a Touchais, Jean-Marie, and boasts an impressive library of aged wines going back to the early 20th century. They make a dessert wine in every vintage, whether or not the rare botrytis emerges, but in 1996 you’ll definitely see a higher proportion of the noble-rot-induced concentration on display. This beautiful 1996 bottling comes direct from their cold, dark cellars on the banks of the Layon. That’s right – you’ll be the first owner of this pristine 750ml bottling, fresh off the boat from France!
Loire Valley aficionados may recognize 1996 as one of the best harvests of that decade and the critics seem to agree – Wine Enthusiast gives it 95 points and crowned it one of their “Best of the Year!”
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