Hares in the vines of the canny Seigneur

Thankfully, Château de Suronde is not easy to find. It’s only a few kilometres south of the tourist wine route along the Corniche Angevine but this is a secret corner of the Coteaux du Layon. Ignore the Sat-Nav just south of Rochefort-sur-Loire and follow the wild hares down to the winery of Guillaume Mordacq and Jean-François Vaillant. In the valley all is tranquil; a fitting place for the botritized chenin-based dessert wines to mature for two years in oak barrels and achieve their quintessential sweetness. In the Middle Ages the magnanimous Seigneur of Chaume levied a tax of only one-quarter of the local wine production – the ‘quart’. However, he took only the sweetest wines from the best vineyards and these became known as the ‘Quarts de Chaume’. One of the Suronde’s small vineyards still bears the name: ‘Les Quarts’. I have never tasted anything quite so sweet and delicious as Château de Suronde’s Quarts-de-Chaume 2004. Want to know what the nectar of the gods was like? M. Vaillant is eager to give his visitors a taste. The winery includes a beautifully restored 18th century house, now let out as a gîte for those lucky enough to know about it. The house stands half way up a steep slope with a splendid view down to the river Layon in the valley below. This is one of those places that’s impossible to stumble upon by chance – it’s a good country mile from the nearest tarmac road. “Perhaps the owners should put up a sign on the main road” I suggested to a Parisian buyer visiting the property. “Ah non!” she replied, “it shouldn’t be too easy for everyone to find – that just wouldn’t do!”

Château de Suronde, nr Chaume, Rochefort-sur-Loire





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