Domaine des Forges
We all have our own personal journey when it comes to wine. Bottles that mean nothing to one man or woman conjure up potent memories of life-defining moments, lost loves or joyous celebrations to another. And every bottle plays its part in our own personal wine education, the best ones lodged in our memories for all time.
Perusing an auction catalogue many years ago, a decade or two ago in fact, I came across a parcel of Coteaux du Layon for sale. I wasn’t that familiar with the domaine, nor with the vineyard in question, but I knew the appellation meant sweet wine for which I had at the time a newly developed appetite, and the vintage looked to be a good one. I took the plunge, and placed an absentee bid, by post (this, for younger readers, is what we did before the age of the internet). To my surprise my rather cheeky bottom-feeding bid was sufficiently high to secure the lot, which arrived on my doorstep a week or two later.
The wine in question was Les Onnis, a Coteaux du Layon Chaume (these days it is of course eligible for the Chaume Premier Cru appellation) from Domaine des Forges. I have since learnt that Les Onnis, one of many lieux-dits eligible for the Chaume appellation, is only just downstream of the slopes of Quarts de Chaume and is indeed directly contiguous with La Poueze, one of the Quarts de Chaume lieux-dits. Perhaps, although I didn’t realise all this at the time, this explains – in part at least – why the wine was so uncommonly good. It had elegant texture, a confident sweetness, but such vibrantly fresh and defining acidity as well. It was one of those wines which was there one minute, and finished the next, such was its seductively drinkable character. It seemed pretty clear that I would have to learn more about Les Onnis, about the Coteaux du Layon, and most of all Domaine des Forges of course.
Having awoken a slumbering appreciation of the wines of the Coteaux du Layon, I did indeed press on to discover more of the wines of Domaine des Forges, many of which are sweet, although we also have dry whites and red wines here too. But it is the superb moelleux and liquoreux cuvées that will be the star attraction here for most punters. Before we get to them, however, we perhaps need some background information on the domaine and its vineyards. I begin with a look at the history of this under-appreciated Anjou domaine in as much detail as I have been able to uncover.