Our visit at Jacky Preys winery was improvised . I suddenly thought about visiting but was not sure it was a good idea as I did'nt know him , and I hate being the city dweller dropping in the middle of intense harvest hours .
But we did it and we don't regret, as he and his wife welcomed us very simply and warmly . After we ringed the bell outside , Janick Preys opened the door and I explained about our interest for the harvest in the vineyards , and maybe , if possible , our wish to have a furtive look on the other activities , arrival of the grapes , pressing , fermentation vats , and how practically supervision is done on all of this...
She called her husband Jacky Preys and I apologised for such an untimely visit . He warmly denied this was a disturbance and invited to look around with him after a look in the vineyard first .
Let's first present the Domaine :
"Domaine Jacky Preys et Fils" is located in Meusnes (map) , 220 km south of Paris , and is maybe the most renowned Domaine in the Valencay appellation . Meusnes is the village at the heart of the Valencay Appellation zone. He presently works on 70 hectares scattered around Meusnes , and also some plots in Mareuil sur Cher . 20 years ago as the Valencay wine was not well known , he drove himself to Paris regularly to present his wines . His wine is now exported , as far as Japan , where he has now a solid customer base and enjoyed a hearty welcome there when he visited the country with his wife .
His wife then drove us in her car to the nearby vineyard where a harvesting machine was working . At a short distance , their son Pascal was driving a big yellow Gregoire harvesting machine working on Pinot Noir grape variety ranks . One of their dogs was looking on , stinky with grape juice and lying in the sun when tired of running around .
Back in the winery , J. Preys offered an unusual tasting experience : Tasting consecutively different evolutions between the grape juice to the "Bernache" , this lovely sweet-but-already-alcoholic beverage that you can drink in the wineries at this time of the year .
He first showed us around . A massive concrete underground facility allows working with gravity when the grapes arrive . Come the juice and the grapes . The grapes are destemmed so that nothing outside the grapes (even leaves) are taken in . As we saw when we tasted different vats , the juice evolves very differently , depending of the work of the natural yeast in the must . Some are still grape juice when in the next vat , from same day harvest and same grape variety ,it has already turned into the sweet alcoholic "bernache" ...
We both climbed to look at the surface of a fermentation vat . Very impressing . It's moving , foaming , bubbling . Seems sometimes a CO2 column is piercing the foam and turns in the vat like a cyclone whirl . We carefully go down and begin to sample the musts.
__1st : Sauvignon juice . colour : ananas juice , or Pastis . Very sweet .
__2nd : Same with 8 days fermentation . Already at half of its final alcohol level : 5-6° .Somehow less pleasant , this is not juice nor bernache anymore , and not wine yet ...
__3rd :Less advanced although harvested same day as the former .
__4th : "Fié Gris" white grape variety , from old vines . Rare grape variety nowadays . Only at J. Preys , in the area . Fermentation not started yet . Subtle must .
Reds now :
__5th : Gamay , for Touraine Primeur .Harvested 10 days ago . Tickles a bit, but fruity . This is bernache !
__6th : Pinot Noir , harvested this morning . Already bernache . You could drink that like milk , it's so good and so sweet and fruity , and you don't really feel the alcohol, except after a few glasses, you feel_let's say_ well .
two pumping-over are made for each red vat at this stage every day . Fermentation is stabilized at 25 ° C .
Other reds like Cot (Malbec) will be harvested in 4-5 days . This year the harvest order is different . Instead of beginning with the whites , faster maturation of red grapes this year has pushed for harvesting the reds first .
He invited to taste also some of his wines , and we tasted :
__1st : Touraine Cot (Malbec) 2000 Cuvée Prestige . Superb . Surprise is that it is not as astringent as the Cot usually is . Destemming is why . Very tannic wine . I will buy 6 of it . 3,40 Euro a bottle .
__2nd : Touraine Cot 2000 Cuvée Princiere .
__3 : Sauvignon gris 2002 "cuvée de Fié Gris" , a rare grape variety . Old vines (more than 110 year old) . Small yields . 30-32 ho/hectare . Concentrated . Substance . Richness . Aroma : Lichees . Very good with asparagus , says B. , also fish . He has a wide range of wines , with different mono-varieties , reds & whites, with of course the Valencay blends , and the sparkling or "Methode Champenoise" . I think we'll come back to taste more of them .