Earlier this year I attended the Salon in Angers, as regular readers will be aware (sorry if you are bored to tears of my mentioning it). For me, though, it is a hugely significant event in my personal ‘wine calendar’, the chance to meet an amazing array of Loire vignerons concentrated in one place for my own convenience. The disadvantages? It would be better to visit them at the domaine, see the vines and vineyards, chat for longer, gain a deeper and more personal understanding of what they do. I do address that; I went out to make a couple of visits with Jim Budd during the weekend preceding the Salon, once I had been round the Renaissance tasting, and I will be returning to the region in the summer. The advantages? That’s easy – prinicipally the sheer amount you can get through. In my three days at the Salon I tasted wines from more than forty domaines, sometimes in excess of 20 individual cuvées. One afternoon I tasted my way through the wines of seven top Vouvray domaines (Huet, Champalou, Aubuisières, Gaudrelle, Taille aux Loups, François Chidaine, Vincent Carême) simply moving from stand to stand, providing a fascinating and unique chance to compare and contrast these estates. You just couldn’t do that if you visited Vouvray and the domaines themselves, not in a single day (never mind an afternoon). What a fabulous opportunity!
It’s interesting to take in the views of others, as this year there were a handful of other UK journalists at the Salon, alongside regular stalwarts such as Jim Budd and Sarah Ahmed. These included Margaret Rand, Liz Sagues, blogger Andrew Barrow and another blogger who goes by the pseudonym of Miss Bouquet. The latter two have a web presence (always handy for bloggers, I think!) and I have linked to their reports below, along with links to Jim and Sarah’s thoughts this year:
Jim’s Loire – Jim writes on the Loire and the Salon so much I can’t pick any one particular post out above the others. I suggest you just check in daily, as I do.
Sarah Ahmed – Sarah has many vinous interests – I’ve linked to her Loire Salon reports.
Andrew Barrow – Andrew tweeted from the Concours de Ligers (award-winners) tasting room.
Miss Bouquet – opinion on how the Loire Valley markets itself.
I was particularly interested in Miss Bouquet’s cry for “the inspiration I craved” from the Salon, and her approach to “only taste wines that visually caught my eye”. It’s not an approach I would take when faced with a gamut of world class wines from France’s greatest wine region, but then inspiration from packaging is without doubt very important. The vast majority of consumers make buying decisions based on labels, in supermarkets, I would think. So packaging and visual appeal has a huge influence on how well wines sell, and heaven knows the French need to improve their sales. Perhaps this is a more valid approach than it at first seems? What do you think?