Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Day 31 - Into Anjou-Saumur...

Today I continued exploring Touraine before moving into the 'Anjou-Saumur' area... I started my day in Chinon..... Another day, another town, another château...
And very beautiful it was too.... as was the view over the town and the Loire...
The town itself was a beautiful example of Mediaeval architecture and really quite a buzzing little place... In some ways I regretted not travelling just a little further and staying here last night, but hey ho, we live and learn.
There is a wine and cooperage museum, which I decided to visit....Well, I arrived and was directed through a door, down some steps (on my own) and into a dark room with life size puppets.... a bit spooky really. Anyway, I made my way round the quite informative presentation until the last room, which was back on ground level, which was a man and his wife supposedly sitting in front of the fire chatting about the wine, but it was really rather rude, a little lewd and quite unexpected. Then the owner of the museum arrived offered me wine and had a jolly old chat before his chum arrived and in turns pawed at me and, well I can only describe it as leering really..... Not good. I mean, well, my advice would be not to visit if (a) female and (b) travelling on your own. Do I think they realised? Probably not..... They were just dancing over the line between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, but I'm a great one for trusting your instincts and I felt uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, I did taste a petit rouge:
AOC Chinon 2009 (rouge) - Domaine Sourdais-Taveau - This 100% Cabernet Franc smelled of sunny red fruits and tasted of red and black fruits with tannins, though not overwhelming.
As I walked past one of the local bars, I was invited in to taste a rosé
AOC Chinon 2009 (rosé) - Domaine de la Commanderie - Again 100% Cabernet Franc and made in the saignée way with a light cherry nose and a subtle taste of red fruits with a tannic aftertaste. The colour was offputting as it was very bubblegum pink!

Bourgueil was my next stop, home of an abbey this time:
I drove out to the neighbouring Restigné to the Cave des vins de Bourgueil, where the very lovely hostess offered me 6 wines.

These are all 100% Cabernet Franc, though it is not unknown for up to 10% of Cabernet Sauvignon to be blended:
  1. AOC Bourgueil 2008 - Pierre 1er Dupin (rosé) - A nose of wild strawberries and similar taste, but with distinct tannins, (Saignée method).
  2. AOC Bougueil 2008 - Marie Dupin (red) - Nose of raspberry, cherry and violet and tastes of wild strawberry and deliberate tannins.
  3. AOC Bourgueil 2008 - "Cuvée Signée" par Romain Parasis Maître de Chai (red) - Aromas of redcurrant, raspberry, cherry, strawberry and violet and on the palate strong red fruits, particularly redcurrant, but with high tannins.
  4. AOC Bourgueil 2007 - Philippe de Valois (red) - a wine very characteristic of the appellation - Scents of deep plum jam and flavours of red and black fruits, slightly spicey with more integrated tannins.
  5. AOC Bourgueil 2006 - Domaine de Matabrune - this time the nose was sweeter, cherry jam and notes of cinnamon; while on the palate the same red fruits with more peppery spice and tannic notes.
  6. AOC St. Nicolas de Bourgueil 2008 - "Cuvée Signée" par Romain Parasis Maître de Chai (red) - An offering from the neighbouring appellation with similar sandy terroir as the 2nd wine above. The nose was red fruit and a bit leathery, but the red fruit and blackcurrant flavours were more roundly integrated with the tannins..... For my individual taste, the best of the reds.
The Bourgueils became stronger and more intensely aromatic from 2 to 5 with both age and the change in terroir from sand to schist, but for me Cabernet Franc just doesn't deliver enough acidity to produce an exceptional wine. These were nice, the St Nicolas the best, but the tannins were difficult to get over..... Maybe with food, particularly red meat, these wines would come more into their own. As the list progresses (2-5), the length of time that one can keep these wines increases from 3 to 12 years!.
St Nicolas de Bourgueil
I passed through St Nicolas de Bourgueil on my way to Saumur, and the start of the 3rd quarter of the Loire Valley, where golly... gosh... gee... there was a château!
Another very attractive town.... what can I say, it's like touring the houses of fairytale characters... Yesterday Sleeping Beauty..... Today Cinderella - the 'castles' are stunning, but they tend to be much of a muchness inside. As a tactical site, again it sits high overlooking the river, but the town itself is right on the banks...

And is filled with beautifully designed architecture in every street...
Hôtel de Ville, Saumur
I stopped at the Maison du vin de Saumur for a tasting. Again all 100% Cabernet Franc reds:
  1. AOC Saumur 2009 - Domaine de la Girardine - "Cuvée Instinct" - A nose of rich red fruits; cherries and ripe plums with vegetal notes and similarly to taste cherry and plum flavours, but with a pepperiness and distinct tannins.
  2. AOC Saumur Champigny 2009 - Château de Parnery - Aromas of red fruits, blackcurrant and violets with the same flavours on the palate, but for the addition of spice - less tannins than the first.
  3. AOC Saumur Champigny 2008 - Domaine des Coutures - although red, this wine should be served chilled! The nose was damson and black cherries and the taste, again cherries, red and black, a hint of vegetal and the now expected tannins.
  4. AOC Saumur Puy Notre Dame 2008 - Domaine de la Paleine - Scents of violets, raisins and red and black currants give way to smooth, but intense spiced cherry flavours with tannins.
  5. AOC Saumur Champigny 2008 - Domaine des Sanzay "Vielles Vignes" - the 30-35 year old vines have produced a wine that has been aged for up to 12 months in oak barrels giving the nose a smokiness over red plums with a more cherry flavoured taste with the same tobacco smokiness and of course tannins.
Again, for me these wines really suffer from the lack of acidity to compliment the tannins, and as a result are somewhat unbalanced...... but again, this is personal opinion and could well be rectified by enjoying these wines with a steak or other red meat.

After all the wines tasted today, it was time to head to Gennes for tonight's repose..... Not a luxurious hotel, but a real haven. Very lovely hosts, home cooked, fresh produce meals and a beautiful setting..... and somewhere to stop for more than one night - a good base if you would like to explore this part of the Loire. I also enjoyed a glass of white with my meal:
AOC Saumur 2009 - Domaine de Nerleux "Cuvée des Nerleux" - Floral apple and white peach aromas and a sweet apple and peach flavour with only hints of blossom.

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