Saturday, 12 September 2009

Caves

The vendange (wine grape picking) has just started in the Loire Valley, although neither of the winegrowers we visited this week expect to begin their harvest for another 10 days or fortnight. They are hoping the good weather continues, with just one or maybe two days of rain between now and the harvest, to swell the grapes a little more. They are hoping for a small but high quality vintage this year.

Caves like this are found all over the Touraine.
Originally limestone quarries, some have fallen out of use
like this one, but many are still in use as wine cellars.
On Tuesday we visited Antoine Simoneau's establishment of Domaine Rablais at La Chaise and bought two mixed boxes of wine for a total of €52 - a selection of sauvignon blanc of different ages, a couple of côts and a sweet wine they have called Acacia Blanc because it is aged in Acacia (Robinia) wood barrels. The Acacia Blanc went down very well with some supermarket pâté de canard on baguette for lunch one day, and I'd like to return one day and get some of their older cabernet franc, with its tarry liquorice overtones. They are very easy to find, as there are quite a few signs in and around Saint-Georges-sur-Cher to their winery, where they have a shop, and the heavily pregnant Carine Simoneau and staff were all very friendly, helpful and speak reasonable English. Madame Simoneau's baby was overdue, so I hope by now the next generation of winegrowers has emerged, and all is well.

A little shrine set up in a disused cave.
A couple of days later we stopped off at Alexandre Monmousseau, of Château Gaudrelle's new cave on the main drag at Rochecorbon, Vouvray, right on the river Loire on the outskirts of Tours. This was to buy some of the sparkling white wine that the area is well-known for. We opted for a pleasant, middle of the road classic style dry wine with smallish bubbles, €7.90 a bottle, on the grounds that most people will like it. The other choice we were offered was a distinctive extremely dry, extremely minerally wine, which I loved, as I have always loved very flinty white wines. In the end we decided it was a bit challenging and that too many people would not like it. Charles, who showed us around the still empty caves, said that they have only been there for two months after having sold the château itself, but not the land and the vines. He was charming, spoke good English and was clearly excited about the new business opportunities the new site offers. It's a great location, and we wish them the very best. We hope to go back and see the new tasting room, cellars and chai (where the wine is actually made) sometime next year.

Susan

3 comments:

Jim Budd said...

Susan

Yes 2009 is looking promising at the moment, particularly for those who have escaped the hail damage that has hit some producers from the east of Tours through to Sancerre-Pouilly.

We just need to weather to hold good for another month or so. As Sir Alex Ferguson famously said about the end of the football season – it's 'squeaky bum time'!

Jean said...

What does 'squeaky bum time' mean ??

Simon said...

Jean
I have a feeling that if it needs explaining to you, you're far too much of a lady to want to know :¬)