Les Fiefs Vendeens Their history dates from the
Middle-ages when the monks cultivated their patches of vines. From this time on
a strong tradion of local wines was born. Four wines in particular : BREM,
MAREUIL, PISSOTTE and VIX , were duly recognised by the wine
Today, about a hundred wine growers establised in well defined
areas have launched into a great venture of producing wine under the slogan
Fiefs Vendeens (vineyards of Vendee)
Benefiting from more sunshine
than the national average,the White, Rose' and red wines from these four areas
are wines with a delicate bouquet with completely different fragrances. The
wines from the Brem area are produced from two two different vines called
Groulleau gris and chenin, they are limpid and soft wines with a very often
discreet apple aroma. Situated more to the south east, the small vineyards of
Vix and Pissotte produce full-bodied wines, They are made from the same types of
vines as the wines from the other areas, but to which are they must add
Sauvignon (Vix region) and An Melon (Pissotte region).
Whatever the area, all
these wines are cultivated with love by each grower and the spirit of the
country seems to sing in the bottle.
It is worth noting that in the Lay
Valley there is the greatest concentration of wine growers per capita in
These are the offical wines,but those who live in the Vendee tell
of a different breed of wine.
It seems that a couple of hundred years ago
France lost most of her vines to the Valopterra worm.The goverment decided to
distroy all of the vines and re-import new vines back from California and South
Africa in the varieties that originally exsisted so that they could continue
with their traditional wine production. I'm informed it was at this time that
Appelation controlee was introduced to firstly contol the grape varieties that
went in each distinct wine, but secondly to control the amount that was
produced, so therefore keeping the price up to pay for this work.
vendee didn't grow many grapes and it seems the worm didn't effect them, and
being good farmers they didnt distroy what wasn't effected. These vines still
exsist today and are the true Bordeau's. They are said to be very Fruity and the
reds are dark in colour, so much so that they say the glass turns blue when
washed. the other stiking feature is that most are up to 18% alcahol.
stories of these wines that you hear banded about in quiet corners say that they
are called Vin-Fool, becauce once you start drinking you do not detect the
strong alcohol in them so you drink more than is good for you.
asked an old farmer about them,and he said there where quite a few different
The two whites he mentioned were Noah ( it is rumured that Noah can
ashore, planted his staff and this took root and became a vine). The other was
Castell white,so I presume there is also a red.The reds mentioned were Oberlan
and Jerasian.(I'm not sure of the correct spelling). It seems there's no
It is illigal to grow and sell these grapes so I'm not sure where you
can get to try them out other than quietly ask the older man in the small
villages.if the like you you may be lucky. As i am no longer able to drink
(damage to liver caused by too much medicine after a back operation) I have
little interest in casing this one.
There are more wines, generally available
from locals once you get to know them,there are the imported vines, still in
their number formed. One I tryed a few years ago was Dix Huit Mille (18000) a
bog standard bordeau wine of about 12%. Again you cant buy them to my knowledge
but often you will be given the chance to try them.
Everyone will have heard of Pineau from the Cognac area. Originally started from
a man from Jersey who came to the Cognac area to produce a fortified wine to
compete with Sherry from Spain and Port from Portugal. He never succeeded in his
quest but the distilled alcohol of the wine, Eau de Vie, become a world beater
as the Brandy we know as Cognac. Pineau uses Eau de Vie to fortify the local
wine and is an excellant drink.
The south Vendee is just in the Congac area
in a region called Bois de Cognac, and the older men are still permitted under a
permit to have their unusable alcohol leftovers distilled to make eau de vie.
With this Eau de vie the locals make their Pineau, these vary greatly with many
having additives like walnuts added to give a distinct flavour.
Pineau. The True Vendee Pineau is not a fortified wine but a fortified
fruit juice, made from one of the old grape varieties and the moment the juice
is extracted the Eau de vie is added to stop the fermentation. It is kept in oak
barrels for the winter before being bottled. I have never heard of these being
available commercially though if you go to a diner party with the locals you
will often be given a glass as an aparitif. These Pineau's are ecceptionally
fruity and the locals claim the finest is made from the Noah Grape. It seems
this method does not work so well with traditional grape varieties.