Friday 27 December 2019

Coeur de Francais

A small plot of Coeur de Francais grape vines.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Our neighbour Gilles inherited his father's little plot of vines on the edge of town. I regularly see Gilles walking up our street towards them to do some maintenance, or freewheeling his bicycle down the hill towards home for lunch. When we first moved here, Gilles father was still alive, always up for a chat, but suffering from some dementia. He'd had a hard life, having endured the forced labour camps in Germany in the Second World War. He still spoke a little German, and would rather proudly demonstrate by counting to ten, or tell a story about living on nothing but potatoes in the camps. Finally he had to move to the Aged Care Facility due to his frailty and Gilles being at work all day. I remember Gilles was deeply upset to have to take this step, and his father only lasted a few months in the nursing home before he died.

Gilles makes wine from the grapes, which he tells me are Coeur de Français, grafted on to Riparia rootstock. I was rather flattered that Gilles didn't explain further than that, assuming I would know what the information meant. Rootstocks from a selection of the American grape vine species Vitis riparia are very commonly used here. They make vines resistant to phylloxera, reduce vigour in the grafted variety and tolerate saturated clay soils well.

Whilst I was reasonably familiar with the rootstock, I'd never heard of Coeur de Français grape variety and can't find out anything about it. It's quite likely I have misremembered the name slightly, or misheard it. I suspect that if it is a commercial variety it is called something else in the wine industry and Coeur de Français is a local name for it. Or perhaps it is not used commercially at all, and only people making their own wine for personal consumption grow it. It must be a black skinned grape, as Gilles' wine is a rosé.

Next time I have time for a chat with Gilles I'll have to quiz him about the grapes. That will be interesting, since he speaks very rapidly and even other French people have difficulty understanding him. 


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Ken Broadhurst said...

There's a useful dictionary of grape varietals (dictionnnaire des cépages) in PDF format that you can download on this site. I glanced and searched through it but didn't find anything like cœur de Français.

Colin and Elizabeth said...

Never mind the grapes hows the wine!!!

Susan said...

Thanks. I couldn't find anything like that name either. There is nothing for it, I'll just have to gird my loins for a complicated conversation with Gilles.

Susan said...

Well, not grand cru. It was this year's vintage and he said it wasn't really ready to be drinking yet. It was quite sweet, because of the hot summer. Very raspberry pink. A natural wine so it will develop quite a bit and I doubt if he will count it as one of his best vintages.

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