This famous producer of one of the great Loire sweet wines is based in the small town of Doué-la Fontaine south of Saumur where the Touchais family have been involved in the management of the company since its inception in 1787, two years before the French revolution.
Vignobles Touchais owns 150 hectares of vines, 35 of which are dedicated to the production of sweet wines, making them a fairly large producer by the standards of the region. For many years their famous moelleux wine Moulin Touchais was labelled as Anjou for the UK market rather than its AC of Coteaux-du-Layon because the owner at the time thought that no-one in Britain would have heard of the AC but would recognise the name Anjou.
In their extensive underground cellars the company keeps more than a million bottles of maturing wine. It is a unique collection of old vintages dating back to the early 19th century and there is ample evidence that the wines can age for more than a lifetime in optimal cellar conditions.
The longevity can in part be attributed to the policy of picking some 20% of the crop slightly early to retain a vibrant acidity as a balance against the sweetness of the remaining grapes, harvested almost a month later.
There is generally no botrytis influence in Moulin Touchais and the wine relies on the concentration of sugars accumulated through the time the grapes spend on the vine. Botrytis wines can have up to 300 grams of sugar per litre but Moulin Touchais is less than a third of this at 80 to 90 gm/l. Natural yeasts are used for fermentation in epoxy-lined concrete tanks and the wine is bottled without oak in the April following the vintage. It is then aged by the company in their cellars until they deem it ready for release which is for at least ten years.
To ensure that quality is maintained Moulin Touchais is not made every year and wines made from the rest of the vineyards are sold off in bulk, often to sparkling wine producers in the region.