Vines, Loire wines and ramblings

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.

poster 2018A 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!

previously featured:

– 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/

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Plants and Chickens Festival at Montlouis-sur-Loire

Plants and Chicken Festival poster

Every Easter (11 -13 April 2020)the Chateau de la Bordaisiere at Montlouis-sur-Loire, just east of Tours (37 Indre-et-Loire, Centre- Val de Loire) hosts the a Festival of Plants and Chickens!(Fete des Plantes et des Poules). With over a hundred exhibitors specializing in the plants and garden art and the theme of the festival is designed to complement the United Nations declaration of 2010 as the “Year of Biodiversity” – and the vegetable collections are designed to reflect the richness of different varieties – not least of the Tomato, which is a speciality for the Chateau – which hosts a Tomato Festival (Festival des Tomates) on 8-9 September 2018

This is a unique festival, where tomatoes are celebrated for all senses, colours, tastes, perfume, knowledge… Tomatoes from the past, black, green, pink, yellow, white, orange, red ! stripped, all different shapes, banana’, pumkin’, pears’, cherrys…, sweet, acid, all different uses, jams, chutneys, mustard, vinegar, alcool, deserts…, but also the discovery on new ways of breeding…, ways of using tomato, for health, beauty crème, perfume, medicine …

festival de la tomate image for more on the Plants and Chickens Festival and the Tomato Festival see www.labourdaisiere.com

An additional attraction is that you can also stay a night or more in the B&B at Chateau de la Bordaisiere:-

chateau de la bordaiserie..housed in a historic building surrounded by splendid gardens where Francis I’s favourite, Marie Gaudin, and Henry IV’s favourite, Gabrielle d’Estrée, used to live. Prince Louis Albert de Broglie (the Prince gardener) created in the castle’s park the Conservatoire de la tomate (Tomato Conservatory)…visit the beautiful dahlia garden and officinal herbs gardens. To transform this historic site in a perfect eco hotel, at the end of 2009 the management will start a technological renovation program ending in 2012. The program will use the best solutions for water and energy savings, as well as waste disposal; whilst educational exhibitions will take place at the Château de la Bourdaisière Hotel.

Plus there are the wines of the Touraine (especially Sauvignon Blanc whites) and the sparkling wines of Vouvray and of Montlouis itself – the Chateau owns its vineyards and produces white ‘chenin blanc’ dry, semi-dry and sweet wine.

Vouvray is known for its Chenin Blanc that comes in a variety of styles, still and sparkling, dry to sweet. Although they also grow the largest variety of grapes in the Loire, there is nothing they take pride in more than their Chenin Blanc. Read more about Vouvray on ilovewine.com

Loire Valley Wine route – free map and guide

loire valley wine route and map

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:-

Domaine Leduc-Frouin
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
info@leduc-frouin.com
www.leduc-frouin.com

This is an invaluable guide to wine touring in the region, which does offer many delights for the wine and food enthusiast and others.

Download the map and guide
For more on Domaine Leduc-Frouin see www.frenchduck.co.uk

Visiting French Wine Co-ops

castelmaure
Our mini-series on visiting French vineyards (French Vineyard Visits and Visiting French WIneries) looked at the “etiquette” of visits and explored the range of different types of facilities on offer.
There is however another option – which is to visit one of the many local co-operative wineries. The advantage is that they are staffed throughout the day, usually have a lot of good value wines on offer and you can usually get wine “on draught”. If you buy a plastic 5 litre “cubitainer” you can get it filled up with wine for a ridiculously low price – or sometimes be able to purchase wine boxes of the local wine.
A broad generalisation would be that co-operative wines are less “exciting” than many of those made by small independent winemakers. However, whilst this may apply to many, especially in the south of France, others do produce high quality wines.

In Alsace, for example, many of the best wines are produced by co-ops such as Turckheim and will offer an excellent tasting and range of wines.

In the Loire Valley, the Cave des Producteurs de Vouvray has a wide range of wine styles on offer and an interesting visit through the underground cellars.

In the Southwest, the co-op at Buzet (les Vignerons de Buzet) led the re-creation of the vineyard and established the appellation’s reputation for good quality wines. The visit to the winery also includes a demonstration of cooperage (barrel-making).
Another example of how good a co-op can be is at Plaimont in Gascony, deep in the heart of Armagnac country. A wide range of great quality wines from simple Vins de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne through to rich Madiran reds.

At Marmande the visit will be more basic, but the Cotes du Marmandais wines are fine and good value for money,
In the Languedoc one of my favourite Co-operative cellars is in the small village of Embres-et-Castelmaure in the Corbieres – some truly excellent wines in a delightfful if rustic surroundings.
Finally in the Southern Rhone valley I’d recommend the Cave de Beaumes-de-Venise for their well-known dessert Muscat wine, but also some very good red Cotes du Rhone.