Maple wines: Discover the expression of a terroir.
Our own vineyard is a forest; a natural ecosystem called maple grove. With us the vine suffers in winter, freezes late in spring or too early in autumn. Maples have been growing there for millennia, without human intervention, without pesticides.
The winegrowers use the sugar from the grapes to make wine; we use the sugar from our maple trees. We borrow traditional winemaking methods to express our terroir. The result ? Maple wines, an exceptional product, unique in the world.
Whether dry, light, sparkling, sweet or slightly maderized, the palette of tastes varies according to the know-how and creativity of the maple syrup producers.
What is maple wine?
To vinify maple means to transform maple through alcoholic fermentation. Fermentation turns sugar into alcohol. If we let the yeast eat all the sugar, we find a dry wine with amazing flavors. During a first tasting, the neophyte is confronted with his own system of beliefs, emotions and knowledge. He seeks to compare, he seeks the taste of maple syrup, he seeks to take a stand.
Sévels, acers and other maple wines remain amazing products. We are very happy to present them to lovers of the pleasures of the table. The reaction of these people comforts us and encourages us to continue our research.
Characteristics of maple wines
Many people say they taste the apple at tastings. No wonder maple syrup goes so well with apple pie; both contain malic acid.
It was Lavoisier who first proposed the name of malic acid. It originates from the Latin, malus , the famous Adam's apple tree of Christian legend.
Malic acid is present in grapes as well as in apples and maples. Its characteristic taste is clearly noticeable in rhubarb. It gives a sour taste to the wine.
Winegrowers often seek to convert malic acid into lactic acid, which is much sweeter. Whether controlled or natural, this stage of the winemaking process is called malolactic fermentation. It aims to add sweetness to wines.
For maple wines, it is the lack of acidity in the must that requires intervention. The pellicular maceration of fruits from our region helps to structure the wine and give it greater freshness and more acidity. Otherwise our maple wine would be too soft, we prefer it more nervous.
Most of the time we add organic acids to the juice before fermentation. These acids are found in sufficient quantities on grapes (tartaric) or apples (malic), but insufficient in maple sap.
Is our maple wine a natural wine?
This is a question that we are not often asked but that we often ask ourselves when developing our maple products. Here's what we think.
Organic and biodynamic certification
In the early 2000s, I was completely blown away by reading the book by Nicolas Joly, a Loire winemaker who produces the prestigious white wine, La coulée de Serrant , in Savennières, France.
In his book, Wine, from Heaven to Earth: Biodynamic Viticulture , he explains how he took over the family vineyard to apply the principles of Rudolph Steiner, father of biodynamics and author of more than 350 books. Some of Nicolas Joly's wines sell for over $150.
Biodynamics perceives the Earth as a living being in the process of evolution and aging. From the beginning of the 1920s, Steiner proposed a new approach and questioned the use of synthetic products that were incompatible with the organization of living nature.
According to proponents of biodynamics, the technical-industrial approach induces phenomena of degeneration of natural habitats and promotes the emergence of epidemics.
Today, there is certification for biodynamic wines, just as there is organic certification. The maple syrup wines of La ferme du loup do not have these certifications. Our customers who visit the forest note that our work consists first of all in respecting our natural environment.
Ecological forest management
For Peter Wohlleben, in his fabulous book, The Secret Life of Trees , forests are like human communities. We observe parents who help children grow up, neighbors who support each other. Through their roots, trees share nutrients and communicate with each other. All that esoteric? No, the author rather uses the scientific approach to explain his fascinating subject to us.
Thus, our role, in all this natural force, is to intervene as little as possible. We have made the choice of an ecological management of the forest.
In the cellar, we limit our intervention as much as possible. We do not adhere to any school and keep our freedom, including that of questioning our own practices.
Maple products, vinified, have not yet expressed their full potential. We are constantly on the lookout for the perfect product for the table. A product that fuels conversations; which presents itself discreetly between two bites and which creates a harmony, otherwise impossible.
Sweet Sével , for example, is an aperitif wine that goes perfectly with foie gras and is four times less sweet than a sweet wine. We love it with well-salted roasted nuts or tapas. It contains sulfites in trace amounts. Maybe they won't have any more one day.
For our Pet'nat , we use selected yeasts but no sulphites. We consider that the sulphite is not necessary because the wine is quite acidic and the carbon dioxide protects it from oxidation.
For yeasts, the goal is not to orient the taste as some manufacturers do. The composition of maple sugar is difficult to ferment. To date, the spontaneous fermentation of maple syrups gives mediocre results.
We know the indigenous yeasts of our domain well. They are voracious in the spring, food being scarce at this time of the year for them. They invade our forest in search of sugar. They multiply exponentially in our harvesting basins. We hurry to cook our maple sap in order to concentrate it and stop their proliferation.
Cooked, these yeasts are excellent. They are responsible for the changes in color and flavor of maple syrups during the same season. During the first flows the nights are cold, the thermometer drops below -20 degrees. As the season progresses, the warmth helps them multiply. Controlled, they are the expression of a terroir, too many of them, they make the syrup less interesting from a taste point of view. We use cold and fast processing to limit the growth of our friends/competitors.
Is maple wine from the Ferme du Loup natural? Your turn to judge.
December 22, 2022