Coteaux du Layon Beaulieu-sur-Layon wines are sweet whites produced under the Coteaux du Layon appellation, specifically from the parish of Beaulieu-sur-Layon in the Anjou district of the western Loire Valley.
Beaulieu-sur-Layon is a small village at the heart of the Coteaux du Layon area, located between the southern banks of the Loire and the northern banks of the Layon river, which gives the appellation its name. Protected from the north and east by the Foret de Beaulieu and Foret de Brissac woods, the vines of Beaulieu enjoy a southerly exposure on the gently sloping gravelly banks above the Layon.
The quality of the area's sweet wines is largely due to the local topography – itself a result of the nearby rivers, including the Layon. Over the millennia the river has carved out gentle, south-facing slopes around Beaulieu, creating a sheltered mesoclimate that protects the vineyards from cold continental winds blowing in from the north and east. In late summer, the morning mists rising from the river promote the development of botrytis (noble rot), an essential ingredient in the best Coteaux du Layon Beaulieu-sur-Layon wines.
The sweetest and most expressive wines from the village are sold with Selection de Grains Nobles mentioned after the appellation title. They are made from grapes harvested in tries successives – i.e. multiple passes through the vineyard, with pickers collecting only those grapes affected by noble rot. This title was brought to the Loire from Alsace to replace the former sweetness statements Demi-Sec, Moelleux and Liquoreux, although the tries successives harvesting method is credited to the top chateaux of Sauternes.
All Coteaux du Layon wines are made exclusively from Chenin Blanc grapes, which thrive on the schistous soils here. Chenin (or Pineau de la Loire as it is known locally) is by far the most widely used variety in the sweet wines of the Loire and is at its peak within the Coteaux du Layon catchment area.