WA90: The most recent release of Moulin Touchais (for more about whose unusual operation, see my report in issue 172) is a 1996 Coteaux du Layon that illustrates the striking combination of mineral and nobly sweet characteristics that were possible in this unusual vintage, though its notoriously high acidity is scarcely noticeable thanks to the balance lent by high sugar and the harmony conveyed by time in bottle. Alkaline and wet stone aromas here approach the effect of sticking one’s head down a moss- and algae-covered cistern, accompanied by scents of lily, narcissus, quince preserves, stale bread, musk, and sweat. The rich quince character is carried and complimented by a juicy and not at all heavy palate impression, and this finishes with remarkable refreshment and pronouncedly alkaline and stony minerality, as well as snuffed candle wick smokiness and bitterness of quinine. Prices for these wines continue to be quite reasonable considering their combination of quality and late release that permits access to mature nobly sweet Chenin. Such access was still nearly universal in the early ‘80s, when Terry Theise first piqued my interest in nobly sweet Loire Chenin, but gradually the art of holding old stocks died, along with the fashion for these wines – indeed, along with many once-renowned domaines.