Château de Ricaud
Château Les Roques
The Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) of Loupiac is named after Lupus, the wolf. It is a small and beautiful region of 309 hectares under vine, cultivated by about 50 producers, most of whom own less than 10 hectares. This is a shrinking trend as in as in 2002 there were 402 hectares under vine. It lies on the southern edge of the Entre deux Mers, the land inbetween the Dordogne and the Garonne, 40 km south east of Bordeaux. Residents are called Loupiacais for men or Loupiacaises for the women.
The AOC was formed in 1936, with an average production of 12550 hectoliters per year and a maximum yield of 40 hectoliters per hectare which is 5000 bottles per hectare.
Grape varieties permitted by the AOC are Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle. Sémillon is by far the dominant at 80% of plantings, and the fragrant Muscadelle is used sparingly. The soil is a mix of clay and limestone, with only sporadic patches of gravel. Clay retaining water can be advantageous in dry months. The vines are intentionally grown low and narrow to increase vine density and have less grapes per plant, improving the quality.
Loupiac, together with Cadillac, and Sainte Croix du Mont, form a trio of sweet white wine production in the Entre deux Mers. The sweetness is caused by Botrytis Cinerea, a necrotrophic fungus dubbed Noble rot, which removes water from the grape while leaving in the sugar and not damaging the grape in any way. This rot is encouraged by the morning mists of the Garonne river followed by long sunny afternoons. The fields of vines are generally south and south west facing.
Harvest is mostly done manually with successive sorting, sometimes returning to the same vines 4 or 5 times and only picking the grapes when they reach the perfect 'roasted' look. Final yield per hectare is low.
Evidence shows the Romans lived and grew vines in Loupiac since before the 13th century. Remnants of are large villa are connected with Decimius Magnus Ausonius, poet and tutor to emperor Gratian, from the Gallo Roman 4th century and where Château Ausone in Saint Émilion derives its name.
The region recovered rapidly after the phylloxera scourge of 1864 and the Loupiac Syndicat Viticole was formed in 1900.
Loupiac wines on the poorer end of the spectrum can be accused of being too light, thin and watery. The better ones are rich and full bodied with elegant structure, balanced by good acidity, and a long finish. All are quite delicate and should be served at 4 to 5°C, never frozen. It pairs particularly well with strong cheeses, foie gras, and most desserts.
Expect complex aromas of candied and tropical fruit, fig and honey, with notes of gingerbread, flowers, acacia, currant, and prune.
Created by Pierre Le Hong Infographie.