|The vines of Pouilly-sur-Loire|
Well, what a presentation - it was incredibly well done - in particular the presentation on the seasons of the vineyard - if you wanted to learn about the work of a vineyard in an interesting an informative way, this is the palce to come. When the description of the pruning and burning of vines in winter was described..... smoke was piped into the projection room, for the rain, similarly mist...... So professional, so excellently executed..... in such a small village!
Once all the pieces of the presentation had completed, I was offered a tasting of 4 local wines, all white:
- AOC Pouilly-sur-Loire 2009 (Cédric Bardin) - This appellation is 100% Chasselas grape, one I am completely unfamiliar with. The nose was buttery, floral and a wee bit hazelnutty..... On the palate, very subtle flavours of citrus, mainly grapefruit and again the hint of hazelnut.
- AOC Pouilly Fumé 2009 (Domaine Barillot) - The Pouilly Fumé appellation is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, when white; reds are Pinot Noir. Anyway, this white had a floral nose, with slight metallic notes. The taste was floral and mineral, with a background of citrus.
- AOC Pouilly Fumé 2009 (Nicolas Gaudry) - On the nose, a more elegant wine with floral and herbaceous notes. The flavours on the palate were similarly subtle - herbaceous, floral, maybe white peach, giving a round impression.
- AOC Pouilly Fumé 2009 (Domaine Champeau) - This wine was herbaceous, but also vegetal on the nose, asparagus maybe?? But, compared to the nose, the taste was fruity citrus-grapefruit, elderflower, with tremendous acidity and length.
Sancerre sits atop a hill overlooking the Loire valley and its vineyards below. The town itself is utterly charming..... I was completely entranced by it. I made my way to 'Maison des Sancerre', another centre explaining the wine and its production from the immediate area... Once again, I was enthralled. To begin, a very fascinating explanation of the geology of the area and how the differing soil types give Sancerre wines their characteristic aromas and taste.
|Unfortunately my flash negated the impressive light show!|
I have to say that I have been absolutely and unequivocably impressed, awed by the winemakers of this area. Their attitude is so refreshing, so embracing of nature, so humble..... And yet the presentations, though not glossy in a shallow way, were executed excellently with integrity and style.
The little museum tour ended with a garden with panoramic views....
... before the tasting! They would not give me the name of the wine as they didn't want to show favouritism... just another reason to earn my respect, but they did tell me the area from which it hailed:
AOC Sancerre 2009 (from Amigny) - On the nose, herbaceous, floral and citrussy. To taste, grapefruit, herbaceous with notes of nuttiness.
As I thanked the lady who had offered me the tasting, she gave me the tasting glass, engraved with Sancerre... This is not normal, just a gift on her part which was very kind... I have found the people of this area to be wonderfully welcoming and friendly; this was just one small example.
Anyway, I was delighted... chuffed to bits, truth be told, so I was concerned that I shouldn't break my glass.... so while I wandered about for the rest of the day, I decided to keep my glass in the little compartment between the seats of the car....
As I closed the compartment, I had a little flash of memory... James Bond opening a compartment between the seats of his (probably Aston Martin) car.... Well, now I'm doubly chuffed..... all I need is a second glass and I can seduce unsuspecting french men in my little sports car! I even have champagne! Though not chilled (I'll have to have a think about how to fashion some sort of vacuum sleeve to keep ice....hmmm..... well, I have plenty of red wine till I think of something!)
where I visited the Château de Menetou-Salon. This is the ancestral home of the Princes of Arenberg (still kept as a summer and hunting retreat, though open to the public). This was a proper château, stunningly beautiful, sumptuously furnished and with an interesting history - the Prince Auguste was the political force behind the building of the Suez Canal. It was described as Proustian (à la Marcel Proust).... While a serious writer and social commentator, now all I can think of is the part played by Steve Carell in Little Miss Sunshine, as the (2nd!!) foremost authority on Proust ;-)
Anyway, as still a family home, we were allowed to take a photo from only one point on the tour:
This doesn't do either the house or grounds justice.... and as I've said before, I'm not one for wandering round old houses, but this family does have quite an interesting past.... and to boot were quite the collectors of vintage cars which are also displayed... Real beauties - Rolls Royce Phantom 3, Hispano-Suiza, and other wonders.
The visit finished with a tasting of the white made in the château's vineyards:
AOC Menetou-Salon 2008 - Prince et Duc d'Arenberg - A fruity, grapefruit, maybe gooseberry nose.... and on the palate - gooseberry, floral and a hint of grapefruit and spice.
By now, it was getting quite late, so I made my way to the hotel for the evening. The area is also known for its goats cheese, so this seemed the perfect salad to eat with a half-bottle of Sancerre:
AOC Sancerre 2009 - Raimbault-Cherbec - Again, the mineral, floral, herbaceous blend of aromas on the nose, with a blossomy, grassy, flinty flavour on the palate.
Today was a long day..... and tomorrow will be similar, but I'm excited after such an interesting day today!