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#TWSTaste thread: Members’ Favourites, 13th September



Hi everyone.
While we won’t be kicking off the tasting until 8pm, last time out it was felt that getting the introductory blurb about the wines out earlier would help matters flow more freely during the tasting itself. Also, I’m not around tonight to post it at 8pm, so …

Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine sur Lie, Domaine des Ratelles 2016, abv 12%, £7.50/bottle

It all started in 1948 with 4 ha and Gustave Vinet.

Gustave Vinet

It grew slowly over the years and in 1981 Gustave’s son Gérard took on what was by then 8 ha. Brother Daniel joined him in 1985, and his wife in 1990. Daniel tends the vines and winemaking is carried out by Gérard.

Daniel and Laurence Vinet

Nowadays, the estate has 55 ha of vines in two different sub-zones – 46 ha in La Haye Fouassière and 9 in Château Thébaud, in the very heart of the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine. Located only 15km south of Nantes, the winery is situated in La Haye Fouassière, which is where the appellation has its origins. The vineyards are on the banks of the Sèvre and the Maine, the two rivers the appellation took its name from.

So where are we exactly?


The Vinet winery at La Quilla in La Haye Fouassière

Domaines les Ratelles comes from some of their best plots around La Haye Fouassière totalling 15 ha The harvest generally begins in early September. The soil is sandy, with quartz pebbles (that help retain summer heat) over gneiss and clay of different grades. The grape variety is, of course, like all Muscadet, melon de Bourgogne.

The wine is made in the usual way, followed by six months ageing on the fine lees, bottled at the domaine and released in the June following the harvest. The Vinets say it should be served at 11˚C (precise or what!?), and can be drunk up to 5 years after harvest. Perfect as an aperitif or with fish in sauce, such as pike in a beurre blanc sauce.
A Fistful of Schist Reserve Shiraz-Cinsault-Mourvèdre, Swartland 2017, abv 14%, £5.95

Nestled in the picturesque Riebeek Valley, tucked up against the slopes of the majestic Kasteelberg, on the outskirts of the charming town of Riebeek Kasteel in the Cape’s long-established (and now trendy) Swartland region. lies Riebeek Cellars, a co-operative wine business (comprising some 40 members).



The vineyards of the Riebeek Cellars growers lie in a richly diverse area in terms of soil, climate and topography. Vineyards are situated at heights that vary from 60 m above sea level to 300 m against the slopes of the Kasteelberg mountains.


Rainfall occurs during winter months with enough ‘cold units’ to ensure a proper rest phase for the vines before bud-break in early September. The summers are sunny and warm with cooling westerly winds that are ideal conditions for producing wine.

Riebeek produces a wide range of wines and wine styles, often from older bush vines which deliver greater complexity at very modest prices. The range of Fistful of Schist wines are made here for us, under the guidance of Alecia Boshoff, the cellars’ winemaker and production manager

Alecia Boshoff

This example is a silky, fruit-driven blend of three classic Rhône grape varieties from dry-farmed vineyards in the Swartland region and a great Cape vintage.


Cheers all - have a great #TWSTaste!!

NEW #TWSTaste: Fine Wine Trade Secrets, 18th October
#TWSTaste: Members' Favourites, 13th September
Community Tasting Events Schedule for 2018

Thanks, Ewan! :smiley:

Feel free to have some pre-tasting chat here, everyone - and we’ll kick off in the usual way at 8pm. :clinking_glasses:


Would any of the experts recommend decanting the Fistul of Schist? It is after all very young and I’ve seen mention on these pages that decanting a young wine can open it up. (Not that I have a bottle to decant yet or if I do whether there’ll be time…)

Also I was wondering if the name is a reference to the local geology?


Like @ewan I’m afraid I can’t join this evening :cry: but will read everyone’s comments with interest. I’m sure I’ll pick up the wines at some point and look forward to hearing all about them.



Order just arrived :smiley: but one bottle short :frowning: but not the Schist :smiley: So I’m in and the nice folk at TWS are just sorting the missing bottle!

But the shist is very cold, about 11C, hope it warms up in time.


I was told when tasting the Chenin that it was a reference to the schist soils in the vineyards (though I’m struggling to find anything to back that up at the mo!)


It would seem logical…


Not suggesting I’m an expert for a second (not yet, at least!) — for a lot of young wines you can get pretty much the same benefit of aeration from a vigorous swirl in a large-bowl glass. I plan to pour out a glass of the red 10-15 minutes before we start, give it a good swirl and leave it until after I’ve been through & tasted the Muscadet.


Quick bit of googling on Swartland found this:

The study area lies in the Swartland - a broad rural expanse of low rolling hills interspersed with farms, small communities and towns. Before the advent of wheat farming, the Swartland was characterised by “Renosterveld” plant communities which gave the area a dark-grey olive-green appearance when viewed from
afar - hence the name Swartland (black country). The underlying geology which consists of schists and shales of the Malmesbury Group is considered to be good agricultural land, the shale being rich in trace elements, which before the advent of agriculture supported large quantities of game. The Berg River alluvial terraces contain copious quantities of Early and Middle Stone Age artefacts attesting to the occupation of this landscape by humans for a million years or more. Today the Swartland is one of the most important wheat producing areas of the nation. Almost every farmer is involved in the cultivation of wheat which has given the entire area its particular character and texture.


I decided to decant and will very shortly double it back into the bottle. I tasted beforehand and it will be interesting to see if it’s much different later. But I shall keep mum until later :smiley:


Like Mike, I’ll taste the ‘Fistful’, then decant/aerate, and the try it again. This works really well with some young red wines, I’ve found, but not all . . . let’s give it a go!


I have developed a head cold today so I’m not sure how my senses will be.
I’m busy trying to revive them with an aperitif of a medium dry Amontillafo from Sanchez Romate. I may be here just for the banter :scream::scream::scream::scream:


Best cure for a cold, JReed, is a hot toddy - Scotch whisky with sugar in a glass of hot water. With enough Scotch, you’ll be asleep before you know it - but if you can stay awake, the whisky will ruin the taste of the wine!!


Having just read @ewan on these wines, I have the white too cold!! Trying to raise it the 3 degrees to 11!!


I have ran out of scotch unfortunately.
That will be my Christmas order!


Same here - good job we had the notes early to prepare


I can’t ‘love’ that post but my commiserations :sob:


Although I’m a lover of Malts for a hot toddy it has to be Wood’s Old Navy Rum with honey :yum:


Have to agree with you there, Mike - why waste a good Scots Malt . . .


I saw that a moment ago & I’ve taken it out the fridge - there might have to be some cupping the glass in hand… I would have thought Muscadet would typically been served on the cooler side but hey, I didn’t make it!