Until now, Viré-Clessé enjoyed a special dispensation with regard to the production specifications of the Viré-Clessé appellation to produce wines that are “levrouté”, that is to say wines that contain residual sugars. An official decree signed on 26 April 2018 has now modified these specifications, so they can now add the words “levrouté” and “demi-sec” to their labels. For them, their traditional practices have finally obtained the recognition they deserve.
These wines, classed as moelleux, are different from liquoreux wines. They are not produced every year: the weather must be optimal. For example, in 2017, a handful of producers were able to make these two types of wine:
– Viré-Clessé demi-Sec: These wines have a lower sugar content lower than Viré-Clessé levrouté, but higher than those of the Viré-Clessé AOC, of between 4-8 grams per liter.
– Viré-Clessé levrouté: Everything starts in the vines where the harvest conditions are more rigorous. According to the official decree, they must be harvested by hand and the sugar content must be between 8-18 grams per liter. Ageing must be at least until 1 February of the second year following the harvest.
• The meaning of the word “levrouté”
This term is unique to the Mâconnais region. Here, noble rot or Botrytis cinerea turns the grapes a brown color reminiscent of a hare’s fur, or the “pelage du lièvre”.
• What the wines taste like
For Franck Michel from the Domaine Michel, Vice President of the AOC and who was responsible for the campaign to change the appellation specifications, “These wines are indeed sweet, but they are also wonderfully vigorous with lovely minerality making them very evenly balanced.”
Viré-Clessé demi-sec often reveals aromas of white blossom and candied fruit. One also detects floral aromas in Viré-Clessé levrouté along with hints of ripe fruit and honey.