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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 aurthorities
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 France.
These are the official 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 government  decided to destroy all of the vines and re-import new vines back from California and South Africa in the varieties that originally existed 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 control 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.
Well the vendee didn't grow many grapes and it seems the worm didn't affect them, and being good farmers they didn’t destroy what wasn't affected. These vines still exist today and are the true Bordeaux’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 striking feature is that most are up to 18% alcohol.
The stories of these wines that you hear banded about in quiet corners say that they are called Vin-Fool; because once you start drinking you do not detect the strong alcohol in them so you drink more than is good for you.
I recently asked an old farmer about them, and he said there where quite a few different ones.
The two whites he mentioned were Noah ( it is rumored 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 rose.
It is illegal 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 tried a few years ago was Dix Huit Mille (18000) a bog standard Bordeaux wine of about 12%. Again you cant buy them to my knowledge but often you will be given the chance to try them.

Pineau 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 excellent 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 flavor.

Vendee 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 exceptionally 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.

Articles on Vendeen Wine.

Vendeen wine by Tate
the cave of Claude Galerneau at Rosnay in the lay valley
Tate on his wine tasting, read his article.
View more articles of the Vendee.
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