Archive for the ‘France: Loire Valley’ Category

"Pour de France" graphic by David Ryan

“Pour de France” graphic by David Ryan

I was recently sent this interesting infographic from its author David Ryan of the Headwater holiday adventures (including interesting wine and food themed trips). It is packed with some interesting facts, so I have decided to share it here with my readers at winebeing.com.



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Swirling through the French Loire Valley on a bicycle can dilute a guilt one feels on most wine tasting trips. You are not just pouring litres of alcohol into your hardening liver, but you do some good to your heart and lungs as you cycle off the calories and train your physical body going up and down the hills on the “Route du Cote”. On your way you can take the pleasure from seeing the beauty of nature and biodiversity the Loire Valley offers. Your soul is being soothed by a tranquility of the hills, the roads between the forests and of the tame villages as you pass them on your way to a next winery.

In Loire you can either make an appointment with a wine estate or in many cases you just pop in to the wineries with the doors open and kindly ask if you can “dégustation” with your squeeky French accent. People in the wine industry are generaly welcoming and will let you in to peak in their privacy while proudly offering you their wine to taste. Some might make jokes about you cycling and drinking at the same time and others will take you around and show you their cellars called here “tuffeau”. These are caves cut in the cliffs from softer chalk often containing some limestone giving them their yellowish colour – the tuffeau stone. You can see the terroir here in its entirety.

A cave made of tuffeau stone

Some wineries have their vineyard just above the tuffeau and use gravitation in their winemaking. To be as much as possible in harmony with nature is the philosophy of Vincent Roussely, a winemaker at his own family estate Domaine du Clos Roussely.

The Domaine is located in Ange sur Cher, a village on the Southern side of the Loire near to another locally important river – the Cher.

Vincent Roussely in his cave where he matures all his wine

Vincent Roussely is one of these people you meet and you feel that they are one of the inspiring human beings who somehow figured out how to grasp the gist of happy and productive life with satisfying rewards. His energy and enthusiasm know no boundaries. And, this is visible in the extensive work he is currently undertaking with the properties he bought back after his father had sold them many years ago. The family heritage was perhaps one of his motivations. His great grandfather was a winemaker and distiller, his grandfather was a winemaker and his father was a négociant(person who sells wine to merchants).

His estate was recently certified organic, he is inclining to biodynamic wine making and uses gravity when the grapes are transported from the vineyard into the tanks cut into the tuffeau just below the vineyard.

When we were discussing his relationship with wine in his small butique just across from the Ange’s church where he currently welcomes his guests and sells his wine he said: “It is all about the vine.” He does not believe that the winemaker should interfere with the nature and let the grapes to show off their qualities.

You can taste it in his wines. The whites are quite rustique with a refreshing acidity. The rosé is made of a rare and locally unique grape Pineau d’Aunis differentiating it completely from other rosés you probably ever have tasted. Less perfumey and more mysterious it expresses the grape and does not hinder it. I found it food friendly. He makes also some sparkling wines. A dry Crémant de Loire made from Sauvignon Blanc and a semi-sweet rosé. My pallete though apreciated the most the red blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Malbec in Anthologie. The usually harsh Cabernet Franc is the most widely used red grape variety in Touraine AC, but also in Chinon AC , Saumur-Champigny AC and even in rosés in Anjou. The diversity of the soils in the Loire Valley gives it a wide variety of expressions, but is usually rich, supple and fruity rather than harsh as in Bordeaux where it is used in blends mainly on the left bank.

Domaine du Clos Roussely wines

I was surprised by the quality and suppleness of many sweet wines made in the Loire. The most appealing were the softly sweet Vouvrays, not heavily honeyed as many dessert white wines but delicate and insanely tasty. Chenin Blanc is a very interesting grape for making these sweet wines. Domaine du Clos Roussely makes also sweet wine but from Sauvignon Blanc, therefore it is a bit lighter, quite low in alcohol and a bit shy.

The Valley offers an immense flavour diversity and in order to distinguish and appreciate the wines fully it would be the best to “use all five senses while tasting wine” as Vincent Roussely told me. And I agree with him that we should not “deceive our taste buds by focusing on how thinks look” when inspecting the way how the bottle, the label or the name of the wine appears. Instead we should smell it, savour it and connect it with the occasion we drink it at so we can fully explore the five gifts we were given by the nature: the sight, smell, taste and even touch and hearing in the moment we drink the wine.

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