If you are in the Loire Valley for the weekend of 31 August – 1 September 2019, you can explore the vineyards and Loire wines in a different way,
Vignes, Vins et Randos is an organised series of walks throughout the Loire Valley at various locations featuring Loire wines from the Atlantic Coast through Muscadet, Anjou, Saumur as far east as Touraine:
Organised hikes around the themes of local heritage, vineyards and local wines.
A central theme in 2018 was music in the heart of the vines
A long the walks you will find different activities and gastronomic pauses with local produce such as : pork rillons, rillettes, goat’s cheese, apples and more… The local traditions, expertise and heritage will be the main attractions.
A previous highlight of the walk was an acoustic concert in the vines with professional musicians selected by the organisers of the local Avoine Zone Blues festival who play jazz, swing, gypsy, French or classical music. There is a choice to satisfy everyone’s taste in music!
– The deaf and hard of hearing accompanied on the Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine and Saumur-Champigny walks.
– Hot air ballon on the Chinon walk.
– Horse and cart rides on the Quarts-de-Chaume, and Touraine-Azay-le-Rideau walks.
– Guided descriptions of the vineyard landscapes by experts from the Mission Val de Loire on the Quarts-de-Chaume, Saumur-Champigny , Touraine-Azay-le-Rideau and Vouvray walks.
For more info on this weekend of Loire wines see www.vignesvinsrandos.fr/
Now that does sound like fun – although maybe a little scary until you are confident on the machine – hire a Segway for a tour of the parts of the Loire Valley
“The Segway PT (Personal Transporter) is unique! Each machine is a self-balancing electric transportation device. Teamed up with two computers, gyroscopes automatically respond to your body’s movements, «sensing» when it should speed up and slow down in order to keep you in balance while moving up to 12mph!
Only 5 minutes to master – Learning to use a segway is a magical experience and comes naturaly. It is the first time we get carried by a machine which seems to move by itself.
Currently on offer in the towns of Loches (the royal housing, trave around the Bachelet park at the bottom of the majestic donjon and meander around the paved alleyways of the citadel. ), Amboise (from Amboise castle to the famous Clos Luce manor house, where Leonardo Da Vinci once lived …the heights of the city to the panoramic view of the Loire) and Tours ( the majestic cathedral, the royal castle and the old Wilson bridge.)-
For more info Tel: 02 47 30 95 35 (in France) see www.freemove.fr
There are also Segway Tours in Paris – see http://citysegwaytours.com
There’s a new free map and guide available from InterLoire (the official wine body for the region) to the vineyards of the Loire Valley available to download and in English:-
The light glistening on the river and its tributaries is a wonderful sight. The cellars carved into white limestone, magical châteaux, magnificent gardens, hillsides covered in vines ; hundreds of sights that still hold the memory of kings, queens, princes and artists like Rabelais, Ronsard, Balzac, Leonardo da Vinci, and Joachim du Bellay… The Loire vineyards offer charm, grace and surprise around every corner. It is a region for good living, a valley of abundance, a source of flavourful wines and generous aromas,and we would like to share all that with you.
This wine region (which does not include other appellations which are nevertheless close to the River Loire such as Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy, Menetou-Salon etc – these are all classified as “Vins du Centre” ) does cover the Loire from the Atlantic to Orleans and includes 68 separate appellations and has more than 7,000 wine producers making it France’s third most important vineyard.
For each winemaker there is a comprehensive entry – e.g. for one of our favourites, the Domaine Leduc-Frouin in Anjou:-
The Leduc-Frouin estate invites you to discover its wines in a guided tasting session. Guided tours upon request. Groups: tours and wine tastings, reservations necessary for meals.
Monday – Friday: 9 am -12 pm / 2 pm – 6 pm, Saturday: 2 pm – 6 pm, and mornings by appointment only.
AOC Anjou Blanc ; Anjou Gamay ; Anjou Rouge ; Anjou Villages ; Cabernet d’Anjou ; Coteaux du Layon ; Rosé d’Anjou ; Rosé de Loire ; Saumur Brut.
Antoine et Nathalie LEDUC La Seigneurie – Sousigné
T:02 41 59 42 83
This is an invaluable guide to wine touring in the region, which does offer many delights for the wine and food enthusiast and others.
France has always been a good camping destination – the French themselves enjoy “le camping” and the autoroutes heading south are testament to what seems like a mass exodus of Dutch caravans every summer seeking the warmer climes of the Midi or Provence.
On a recent visit to Domaine Octavie at Oisly (41 Loir-et-Cher, Centre) we discovered a special scheme for motor-caravab (motorhomes?, RVs?, camping cars) called France Passion. In return for a small annual subscription (about £22) you get a map and guide to thousands of farms and vineyards across France where you can park up for the night free of charge.
You need to be self-contained for water, electric etc, as these locations are not campsites with all the amenities – often just a water tap and a bin for the rubbish.
Limited to just a couple of vans, the scheme offers the chance to stay in idyllic, peaceful surroundings – at Octavie this was amidst the vines!
And being effectively the winemaker or farmer’s guest, it is only polite to offer to taste the produce – be it wine, fruit, vegetables, honey, foie gras, snails, olives, even ostrich!
I have heard the French complain that many northern europeans visit their region only to be too self-contained – bringing their home with them and keeping themselves to themselves – but this scheme offers the chance to meet the French on their own turf and find out something about the life of a farmer or winemaker.
For more info on the scheme see www.france-passion.co.uk
We always enjoy visiting Domaine Octavie, where Madame Isabelle provides a warm welcome – their Touraine Sauvignon AC is always excellent – this part of France is ideal for producing top quality Sauvignon Blanc – the region includes Sancerre, Menetou-Salon, Quincy etc.
We were also impressed with the Touraine Gamay AC, which had a remarkable depth of flavour and structure – ideal to accompany a grilled lamb steak (tranche de gigot. Another testament to the changing climate methinks – as Loire valley Gamay could never have reached such a level of intensity 10 years or so ago.
Domaine Octavie, Oisly, 41 Loir-et-Cher
The relevant appellation is Touraine Amboise AC, situated between Tours and Blois on the Loire, and includes still and sparkling whites made from Chenin blanc, rose and red wines made from Cabernet Franc and Gamay.
3 AOCs are celebrated here during the twenty or so wine events each year: Vouvray, Touraine-Amboise, Touraine-Mesland. Along with the 24 “caves touristiques” wine cellars where the troglodyte world is very present, several fascinating sites are worth a visit, such as the Royal Amboise castle, Clos Lucé (where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last days) the Chanteloup pagoda and the Valmer gardens. Also of interest: the Loire à Vélo cycling trail is perfect for pleasant excursions!
For more info see www.amboise-valdeloire.co.uk
Stay at a riverside hotel in Amboise see Hôtel Le Choiseul composed of 3 18th-century residences – period-styled rooms overlook the Loire River, the château or garden
Although it is a trade only event, February sees the Anniversary of the Loire Valley Wine Fair at Angers (49 Maine-et-Loire, Pays de Loire). This is quite significant as it draws attention to the massive improvement in the regions wines in that time – they tended to be rather lacklustre reds, thin acidic Muscadets or horrendous sweet roses.
Now there is a wide range of interesting quality wines available, and even unfashionable Muscadet is now definitely worth another look as younger growers aim for quality rather than quantity. Great Sauvignon Blancs are now available from the Touraine and previously unknown appellations of Quincy, Reuilly and Menetou-Salon – offering better value for money than the often disappointing Sancerre. The Cabernet Franc reds (Anjou, Chinon, Bourgeuil etc) are to my mind still a little austere, but at their best they overflow with rich raspberry fruit which can be a delight. Sparkling wines from Saumur and Vouvray are often excellent, whilst dessert wines from the Coteaux du Layon can be extraordinarily rich and complex.
The Loire is the longest river in France, the last wild river in Europe, and has been designated a World Heritage area by UNESCO. For much of its 630 miles – from the mountains of central France to the coast of Brittany – the Loire is vineyard country, and total wine production makes up the third largest AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) viticultural area in France. It is the largest white wine region in France, and the second largest for sparkling wine.
Our recommendations would include:-
Anjou, Coteaux du Layon – Domaine Leduc Frouin (Martigny-Briand, 49)
Cheverny, Cour-Cheverny from Domaine des Huards (Cour-Cheverny, 41)
Touraine Sauvignon from Domaine Octavie (Oisly, 41)