le tasting room

Loire wine tours, tastings, day trips from Paris & short breaks organised by experienced English wine trade professionals.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Saumur Champigny vintage update

Lovely view from vineyards close to Saumur showing the river Loire and the chateau in the distance

Just returned from a morning in and around Saumur and Saumur Champigny. The weather continues to be perfect this week giving growers the opportunity to take their time and hold off harvest until they think fit. We drove around many of the Saumur Champigny communes - not a single person spotted in the vineyards. The Cabernet Franc grapes look in spectacular form - clean and healthy with no rot.

Healthy grapes from the village of Chaintres in the Saumur Champigny appellation

We spoke to Domaine de Hureau - they are starting tomorrow as is Chateau de Villeneuve - they will be passing through for the 1er tri, the reds to follow next week. At Filliatreau there was lots of activity cleaning tanks and machinery in anticipation for a 5th October minimum start.

Preparing for harvest at Domaine Filliatreau in Chaintres

Will keep you posted as and when harvest starts - we will be there on Saturday.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Vintage update - Vouvray & Chinon

Was over in Vouvray this morning collecting wine from Bernard Fouquet. His press is at the ready with equipment clean and ready for harvest which will begin on Monday. He says that the vines have suffered from a lack of water and this lead to a 'blockage' of maturity. Yields are anticipated to be normal/healthy but the grapes will yield a small amount of juice as they are quite hard. The grapes have seen the onset of noble rot so he is hoping conditions remain dry as any rain could lead to grey rot setting in. At present there is a tiny amount of grey rot but nothing to be concerned about. Harvest on Monday will be for the petillants - acidity is not high but he says there is always a difference between those levels recorded during random sampling and those achieved on the day. Conditions are excellent.

We drove around the vineyards perched above the village of Vouvray. Many vineyards have grapes in great condition and others appear to have a lot of mildew and grey rot. This seems to be mainly where the canopy has been left dense. Photos are not of Bernard's vineyards - we took random shots.

Grapes in this vineyard looking extremely unhealthy, stripped the leaves away to take the photo

On the other hand, these look in good health, clean and without rot, clearly leaf stripped.

Moving on to Chinon, we had a chat with Jérome Billard at Domaine de la Noblaie. He will be waiting for at least another week before harvesting his Chenin for the whites. Potential alcohol is around 12 on average and he is delighted at the current weather conditions which are 'perfect'. Sunny days with a little wind allow the vines to perform normally and without any stress. There is a little grey rot but only a tiny amount and a little noble rot setting in which he feels will add complexity to the whites. He is going to hold off as long as possible if the weather conditions prevail.

I'll post more photos on the Facebook fanpage tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Brocante on the river Loire at Le Thoureil

A few photos from the Brocante at Le Thoureil a 10 minute walk from our house. The weather stayed fine although was damp and rather foggy which kept the crowds away. Fewer stalls than normal and less people attending made it a gentle experience today. No apologies for including yet another picture of a boat on the river - the colours seem to differ so much as the seasons change that I just can't resist.

Friday, 18 September 2009

School Dinners

With constant talk of the success or otherwise of changes made to English 'school dinners' in the past few years I hope my children will feel privilidged to have been to a French school where food plays a very important role.

We moved to this area of France, close to Saumur, 3 years ago, and I remember my first visit to see the local Collège where the children would go to school. The principal took great pains to point out that not only did his school have a very good reputation for its academic teaching, but that it also had one of the best 'cantines' in the area.

Not being in a large city is an obvious advantage - students number around 600 making it fairly small as Collèges go. The vast majority of food is prepared fresh, daily and on the premises.

Each day there is an entrée, plat, dessert and cheese, always accompanied by a green salad and plenty of fresh french bread. Take today for example - here is the menu:

Rillettes with cornichons
Fillet of white fish served with vegetables and a beurre blanc sauce
Fresh poached peach served with chocolate sauce and whipped cream
Cheese - today garlicky cream cheese

The menus are planned in advance and posted up on the noticeboard. Theme days incorporating foods and flavours from other countries are often included.

What strikes me most is that the food offered to children at lunchtime here in France is the food one would serve any adult. No concession is made for age - after all why wouldn't a 12 year old enjoy a beurre blanc sauce or sauce bearnaise. Food is still considered to be important, something to look forward to. As a result of this, I have seen a change in the way my children eat. They are more open to trying new things, tastes and flavours. Of course, they don't like everything but when dishes such as black pudding , mussels, squid and offal are often served, they have a go and often come back with enthusiastic reports about something delicious they have tried at school.

Do they realise how lucky they are? I think they do - they look forward to lunch and enjoy telling us what they have had when they get home.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Chateau de Pimpean - Exhibition

La Chapelle peinte du Château de Pimpéan est le seul monument de l'Anjou dont la copie, grandeur nature, est représentée à Paris au Musée de la Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine. Dans le cadre d'un partenariat avec ce Musée, le Château abrite du 5 Septembre au 11 Octobre 2009, dans le "Grenier aux Rentes", une exposition exceptionnelle intitulée "Vierges à l'Enfant".
Les neuf moulages issus des réserves des collections illustrent la diversité des représentations de ce thème du XIIIe au XVe siècle et permettent une approche des statues originales qui ne sont pas toutes dans leur édifice d'origine.

The chateau de Pimpéan was built by Bertrand de Beauvau, friend of Roi René in 1435 and has a beautiful tiny chapel that contains some of the most beautiful painted wall murals of the 15th century. The paintings represent themes dear to Roi René - angels carrying their instruments of the Passion and scenes of the life of the Virgin Mary. A representation of the chapel is in the Musée de la Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine and in partnership with the museum, there will be an exceptional exhibition titled 'Vierges a l'Enfant' held in the great hall of the chateau.

The current owners bought the chateau in 1993 and have embarked upon a momumental programme of restoration. Le Grenier aux Rentes houses the exhibition and the room itself deserves a visit with its amazing timber and slate roof. Maryse Tugendhat also makes a single wine each year from the 30 hectares surrounding the chateau. This wine called 'Cuvée Passion' also takes its inspiration from the chapel with the label each year depicting one of the angels of the painted murals.

Semaine :
Départ visite à 17h30
Samedi-dimanche :
Départ visite à 11h, 15h, 17h
Tarif : 10€
(expo, visite, dégustation de vins)
06 85 31 07 86

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Vignes, Vins & Randos en Val de Loire

12 randonnées conviviales et accessibles a tous - vignes, vins & randos, ce sont douze randonnées conviviales pour parcourir le vignoble du Val de Loire les samedi 5 et dimanche 6 september, en compagnie des vignerons venues partager leur passion, leur terroir et leur savoir-faire, sur fond de paysages inscrits au Patrimoine mondial de l'Humanité par l'Unesco.

12 convivial walks, suitable for all 'vines, wines and walks', twelve convivial walks in and around the vineyards of the Loire valley on Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th September accompanied by producers keen to share their passion, their 'terroir' and their know- how in the heart of this beautiful countryside (Unesco World Heritage site).

Choose from Jasnières, Touraine, Vouvray, Bonnezeaux, Anjou-rouge, Chinon and more. There qill be pauses along the way to taste local wines and foods, listen to music and participate in entertainment. Suitable for all the family.

For more information visit the Vins de Loire website www.vinsdeloire.fr