Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Domaine de la Garreliere


Pascale Plouzeau in the tasting room of Domaine de la Garrelière.
Pascale Plouzeau in her winery's tasting room.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Back in the summer London Bruno brought an interesting sparkling wine to one of the Claise Connexion apéro soirées. He'd got it from one of the sommelier Xavier Fortin's July wine festivals in Le Petit Pressigny, where wines up for selection in our local Michelin starred restaurant are showcased. It was a natural wine, made from a blend of cabernet franc and chenin blanc grapes. Not being a traditional wine for this area, by law it cannot be labelled with an appellation d'origine controlé, but can only be labelled as the lower status Vin de France. That seemed a shame, as it was an intriguing wine, and a very nice example of a winemaker just ploughing ahead and making the wine he thought was good rather than slavishly sticking to the traditions and rules of the appellation system. I was so impressed I made a note to go and visit the winery sometime.

Célestine outside the winery.
Citroen Traction Avant car outside a winery.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A few weeks later I got the perfect excuse to do so, as we received an enquiry for a tour from a chef and her wife. We asked them if they wanted to go somewhere a bit unusual, and off the beaten track, and help us by giving us some feedback on the experience. They were happy to oblige and of course we priced the tour accordingly.

The surrounding countryside (with some rather pongy melons middle distance).
Countryside around Richelieu.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

I rang the winery and arranged a time. I strongly suspect Pascale, the owner, thought we would not turn up. When we arrived she was nowhere to be found, but eventually emerged from one of the barns. It took quite a while for her to warm to us, but finally we convinced her that we knew something about wine, the local area and liked much of what she was offering us. In the end, between us, we bought about 400 euros worth of wine.

These look like chenin blanc in the vineyard.
Grape vines.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The sparkling wine I liked so much is called Milliard d'étoiles ('billion stars'). It's made from 40% chenin blanc, 40% cabernet franc from the current vintage and 20% of a still wine aged for a year in a barrel. It's bottled and left for a year to develop bubbles, then riddled by hand (which takes a month) before disgorging.

The bell adds a touch of gravitas I feel.
Bell on a winery roof.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

I also bought some reds: Les Rouge des Cornus, made from cabernet franc, 20 year old vines, fermented using natural yeasts and aged 6-8 months in concrete tanks; plus Gamay sans tra la la, from 40 year old vines, with quite a complicated fermentation process to produce something rounded and spicy.

Simon had severe truck envy when we discovered this in one of the outbuildings.
Old truck at a winery near Richelieu.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Vines have been grown at La Garrelière for three centuries. It's a low hill, not far from the historic town of Richelieu, in the Touraine AOC, surrounded by a mosaic of woods, truffle orchards, asparagus and melon fields, and cereal crops. The vineyard has been biodynamic since 1993. The very modern labels are designed by professional artists who are family members and friends.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

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3 comments:

Sheila said...

Lovely name, Pascale Plouzeau. I'll wager your clients were very happy with their tour.

Susan said...

I think the clients were happy. They certainly got something a bit different to our standard tours.

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