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Oak

Gazeteer of France’s great oak woods – Chinon, a medieval forest

12 March 2019

A former seigniorial property before becoming royal hunting land, the forest of Chinon covers 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of predominantly sessile oak (52%), although Scots (25%), and maritime (17%) pine, as well as beech, vie for space with the cooper’s favorite wood.

Published in October 2018, the book The oak in majesty, from forest to wine highlights the concept of forest terroir: a specific soil, aspect, and rainfall, as well as a particular exposure to sunlight, to which should be added the species or variety of tree, the density of plantation, as well as average age, all of which will influence the grain and quality of the wood. The value of a mature high forest will thus depend on both the terroir and in the way in which it has been “led,” as French winegrowers say, or managed, in the words of the forester.

The book, fully illustrated with photographies, compile, through a gazeteer with a lot of details about geography, mesoclimate and history, a list of twenty-six beautiful oak wood forests, as the forest of Chinon.

 

A former seigniorial property before becoming royal hunting land, the forest of Chinon covers 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of predominantly sessile oak (52%), although Scots (25%), and maritime (17%) pine, as well as beech, vie for space with the cooper’s favorite wood. Bordered to the north by the Loire and the south by the Vienne, it receives 695 mm (27½ in.) of rainfall a year. A great diversity of soils, with outcrops of limestone, clay, and sandstone rocks, extends over an undulating relief ranging from 50 to 120 meters (164 to 393 feet) in altitude.

A biological reserve was established in the valley of Maurepas over 180 ha (445 acres), and three sectors are classified as Zone Natura 2000. Part of the Regional Natural Park of Loire-Anjou-Touraine, this national forest of Atlantic type is home to many rare plants (tutsan, etc.), and protected species (natterjack toad). Chinon is also an AOC wine, in red and rosé made from cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, as well as white made from the chenin grape. The most famous is undoubtedly Clos de l’Echo, from the Couly-Dutheil estate, a tannic red wine with notes of raspberry, which has, however, not seen wood since 2003. Nothing lasts forever!

 

Find out the entire gazeteer of France’s great oak woods, and much more, in The oak in majesty, from forest to wine written by Sylvain Charlois and Thierry Dussard.

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