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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
on Vendeen Wine.
Vendeen wine by
View more articles of the