le tasting room

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

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

La Pointe - A Perfect Picnic Spot

If you are looking for a beautiful spot for a picnic I can highly recommend the pretty riverside village of la Pointe. In between Bouchmaine and Savennières, this old fishing port is quiet and unspoilt with beautiful views of the river where the Maine meets the Loire.

The village boasts a number of restaurants including La Terrace which overlooks the river and has a very good local wine list.

You can walk alongside the river and find a quiet place to sit and watch the world go by. The vineyards of Savennières are just a 5 minute drive away so it's an ideal place to stop if you are looking for a little rest and recuperation after a hard morning's wine tasting.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Wine & Chocolate Tasting at Domaine de la Soucherie

Our group outside on the tasting terrace - splendid veiws over the Coteaux du Layon

We enjoyed a very unusual and interesting tasting at Chateau de Soucherie this week. The estate was bought by the current owners in 2007 from the Tijou family (an old established wine-making family going back generations). The chateau is based in the Coteaux du Layon, not far from Beaulieu and has some of the best views in the Loire valley.

Clearly a lot of money has been spent refurbishing the chateau and estate. I did not have the opportunity to ask too many questions of the owners as we were with clients but I am led to believe that this was a new project for them and the first time they have been involved in making wine.

As well as completely renovating the chateau, La Soucherie also offers a very contemporary reception room (available for private meetings, dinners, events), a maison des amis (which can be used as accommodation in conjunction with the meeting room), a slick inside tasting room and a stunning terrace with the most beautiful views of the Coteaux du Layon.

A range of hand-made chocolates has been created in conjuction with a Parisien chocolatier and these are served together with the wines to create a unique and unusual tasting experience. I have to admit this was a first for us - chocolate can be a difficult fit when it comes to wine at the best of times so this approach is new and just a little off-beat.

We tried their 2008 Savennières with strips of dark chocolate containing a sharp lemon paste/jelly - the outside dusted with fennel seeds. The idea is that the citrussy aspect of the wine is complemented by the citrus aspect of the chocolate. A new approach but interesting and in fact not a clash as I would have expected.

We then tasted the 2009 Rosé de Loire - light, fresh summer fruits backed up with fresh crisp acidity. A good summer wine.

The 2008 Cabernet d'Anjou was served with a tablet of dark chocolate studded with chunks of dried banana and strawberry - again the idea being to marry the fruity aromas in the wine with that of the fruit. I found the strawberry aspect worked quite well but the dried banana did not particularly enhance the match.

The very contemporary meeting room/salle de reception.
We finished with two sweet wines, the Coteaux du Layon 2007 which was light and fresh with honey and pear aromas - easy to drink with good balanced acidity, a good aperitif wine. Finally we had the Chaume 2007 which was served with a dark chocolate covered dried apricot. The rich golden wine had aromas of honey, apricot and spices and it went surprisingly well with the chocolate.

The terrace overlooking the Layon has the best views we have enjoyed since moving to live here in 2006. They are just spectacular and I can recommend a visit to Chateau Soucherie for this alone. When the weather is fine (as it was on this occasion), I can't think of a better place to be. As for the modern approach - well, part of me loved it and a little part of me feels that it has been over-renovated. We almost felt like we weren't in the Loire valley any more. Certainly we got the impression that the owners are trying to push the boundaries, to create something unusual, unique and different.

I'm sure we'll be back again as it provides a complete contrast to the normal tasting experience. We were warmly welcomed and our clients absolutely loved it.

I'll be interested to hear your views.

La Soucherie
49750 Beaulieu-sur-Layon

02 41 78 31 18

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

le tasting room is THE BEST!

Just once in a while I feel we have to blow our own trumpet a little. We welcomed Diane and her parents to le tasting room last week for a Loire Wine Discovery day - a one day wine discovery tour from Paris.

In the morning we tasted a range of Loire valley wines, discussed appellation and production in the region.

We enjoyed a tour of the impressive Chateau de Pimpéan with owner/winemaker Maryse Tugenhadt and a vertical tasting of her Cuvée Passion.

Lunch was in the old barrel maturation cellar underneath our home

Jean-Hubert Lebreton led us through a comprehensive tasting of his wines at Domaine des Rochelles in the afternoon.

I think it was Sybil our chocolate labrador that made the day!

Here is Diane's review on TripAdvisor. A big thank you to her and her parents for making the day so enjoyable and also for taking the time to write up such a special review.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Good Cheese from the Market in Gennes

Just back from the market in Gennes where we always stock up on good cheese, particularly when we are providing picnics for our customers.

Our cheese supplier has a shop in Seiches sur Loire, does the market in Gennes on a Tuesday morning and the big market by the Place du Mail in Angers on a Saturday. Although it's expensive, the difference in quality compared with cheese found in the big supermarkets is very evident.

Today we bought some St Nectaire Fermier, a Langres, a Cabichou from Poitou, some Tomme de Savoie, a quarter of Brébis de Corse and a demi of Reblochon. We have yet to find a better Reblochon anywhere - soft and creamy with a wonderful fruity flavour, it gradually slides across the cheeseboard. The Brébis de Corse is the best we have ever tasted too - soft and moist, envelopped in a crust of herbs from the South - at the same time aromatic and gentle.

Can't wait to share them with our customers tomorrow.