Friday, 3 September 2010

Day 32 - More Anjou-Saumur and a stop in Angers

Today is the 2nd of September... exactly a month since I departed from London to start this adventure... In some ways, it seems like yesterday I was bidding my friends "Au revoir", but yet looking at the blog and my pics... I've done a lot.

Today I wanted to drive through the Coteaux du Layon Appellation and hopefully have a taste of the various wines.... Well, I did the drive through Thouarcé, Bonnezeaux, Rablay sur Layon, Beaulieu sur Layon..... Ordinary little villages, yes surrounded by vines, but not a lot of invitations to taste. I ended up at St-Lambert du Lattay, where I visited another wine museum; this one was very educational.... a good place for a school visit, starting with the biology of vines, the geology of the terroir, before the real business of wine-making, with some very impressive old machines and tools used in wine production:

Rotating press

There was also a Maison du Vin, supposedly open every day in July, August and September.... but they changed their minds about September!!
So I drove north to the city of Angers..... A little hairy finding my way into the city centre, but made it in the end.
Angers is located on the Maine river, and... who would have thought it??? has a château...
View from the ramparts

I took the time to tour the castle, and while in disrepair in comparison to Amboise, was nevertheless impressive in stature, location and history. Within the walls was a beautiful garden
and a building housing the largest surviving tapestry in the world. Even if it had been quite tiny, I would have been impressed, given my sewing skills amount to button recovery..... Even hems are wonder-webbed! Sorry! This was amazing... Commissioned by Louis the 1st of Angers, a Duke, it depicts the Book of Revelations, the Apocalypse. As a delicate piece of art history and material of religious significance, it is housed in a temperature and light-controlled building, with photography forbidden, so I'm afraid I've no examples to show you, but it was enthralling... a little challenging, but ultimately beautiful. I want to read the Book of Revelations again just to link it to the disturbingly beautiful tableaux presented. I have to comment that while a tapestry commission was a sign of wealth, the subject of this one speaks to me of a man of integrity and depth... it is not the easiest or most palatable of subject matter, but he chose to have a reminder of it as his legacy. I am so pleased I decided to go into this castle and visit.
But, my mission to Angers was to taste wine... and La Maison du Vin d'Angers had been recommended, so off I trotted - it was just beside the château, so easy to reach. I was fortunate to encounter one of the newer staff, who was keen to display her knowledge and really could not have been more helpful. We had an enthusiastic wine-tasting trip around the immediate region, including many of the wines I had hoped to taste that morning. I tasted 12 wines with her... and quite honestly it would have been closer to twice that if she had had her way, so keen was she to show off her local wines. It is a joy to meet people passionate in their work... one can't help but get swept away with them in their enthusiasm!

  1. AOC Savennières - Château La Franchaie 2008 (white) - 100% Chenin Blanc with a floral nose of apricots; on the palate, very floral, but also apples and white peach.

  2. AOC Savennières Roche aux Moines - Domaine aux Moines 2008 (white) - 100% Chenin Blanc. A really intense nose of apricots, raisins and blossom, with a taste of sweet apples and peaches and good acidity.

  3. AOC Rosé de Loire 2009 - Caves de la Loire "Château de Maunay" - This rosé was made from 100% Grolleau grape (native to the Loire) giving it an almost artificially pink colour (though no added colourings!!). A strawberry/raspberry nose with a strawberry and slight redcurrant flavour to taste.

  4. AOC Cabernet d'Anjou 2009 - Domaine de Noёls (rosé) - A 60/40 blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon made for a more salmon pink coloured wine. Subtle aromas of black cherry gave way to fresh cherry and strawberry flavours.

  5. AOC Cabernet d'Anjou 2009 - Domaine des Trottières (rosé) - A 100%Cabernet Franc wine with subtle strawberry nose and strawberry flavours to taste.

  6. AOC Rosé d'Anjou 2009 - Château de Bois-Brinçon "Escapade" - a demi-sec wine of 90/10 Gamay/Pineau d'Aunis (aka Chenin Noir - another Loire native). A wild strawberry/red cherry nose and the same strawberry/red cherry flavours to taste.
The next 6 wines are all sweet whites made from 100% Chenin Blancs, harvested late and generally having been exposed to a greater or lesser extent to Botrytis (noble rot). This fungus sucks the water out of the grape leaving more residual sugars and adding apricot/honey flavours.

  1. AOC Coteaux du Layon 2009 - Château de Piéguё "Les Varennes" - On the nose, peach blossom. To taste, quite tropical - pineapple, papaya and peaches.

  2. AOC Coteaux du Layon Faye 2009 - Château de Fresne "Grande Selection" - An apricot nose with a hint of sweet apple and to taste intense apricots and honey.

  3. AOC Coteaux du Layon St. Aubin 2007 - Domaine du Petit Métris "Clos des Treize Vents" - On the nose, apricot, honey and even a touch of paraffin (though not unpleasant). In the mouth luscious peaches, honey, baked apples... You can taste the sun, the over-ripe grapes.

  4. AOC Bonnezeaux 2009 - Domaine les Grandes Vignes "Le Malabé" - Once again an Apricot nose, though with notes of blossom. The taste is also apricot, with raisin, and once more the hint of paraffin.

  5. AOC Chaume 2005 - Château de Bellevue "Cuvée Carla" - Apricot and honey on the nose and rich fruity apricot and honey flavours to taste, with the slightest hint of paraffin.

  6. AOC Quarts de Chaume 2007 - Domaine des Baumard - While a nose of apricot, the aroma is finer and enhanced by floral notes, and a teeny bit of paraffin. Similarly, to taste, a much finer flavour of apricot and baked fruits. This wine was exceptional, and just perfect for Christmas pudding, though it can be kept for up to 20 years!
So, after a dozen wines, I bid farewell to Angers and made my way, via Savennières, to my bed for the night in Clisson, west along the Loire almost to Nantes.
I had to take a snap out of my bedroom window as it was gorgeous looking across the river Sèvre to the castle... and on the weir, the ducks were having a grand old time playing and bathing and quacking. It looked like heaven.
So, I am stopping here till Monday, for a little break - I will have a little excursion one day to taste some Muscadets, but other than that a little pause in the journey.

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