Yesterday I travelled down to the Loire Valley, from Edinburgh to Tours via London; other than having to hang around Stansted airport for a long time, it was an uneventful journey. Tours is a great airport, very small, and superbly located. Within minutes of landing I was out among the vines, along with Jim Budd. I may well take this route again in future.
We took a whirlwind tour of some of the Vouvray and Montlouis vineyards before we lost the evening light. I know that you cannot extrapolate quality across an appellation, or even across a domaine, but it is still instructive to see the fruit on the vine waiting to be picked.
Above is Chenin Blanc in the Clos du Bourg, belonging to Domaine Huet; what the picture doesn’t really convey is the small size of the berries as well as the small size of the bunch. This is a second generation bunch, one which developed after the hailstorm swept through in June, and it was typical of what I found in the vineyard. They aren’t going to be of any use in winemaking. It illustrates what a difficult time the appellation has had this year.
Above is Chenin Blanc in Montlouis, probably in the vineyards of François Chidaine, although it is difficult to be sure. These grapes look much more promising. There is a little rot here and there, but it is largely dry, and tastes clean, so no need to lose hope yet. Good weather, as is forecast for the next week, will help.
There was just time to catch a glimpse of some evening light on the Château de Chenonceau, probably my favourite of all the Loire châteaux – not a very original choice, I know, but the combination of beauty and history wins me over. And what’s not to like about a château built over a river?
And finally, before heading home to a few bottles (J. Mourat 11:22, Clos Roche Blanche Touraine Côt 2001, Domaine de Noblaie Chinon Pierre de Tuf 2005, Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Montlouis Rémus 2007, Château du Breuil Coteau du Layon Beaulieu 2007) and a very long and filling repas, a quick view of the sun setting over the Cher.
Today (Monday) I will be visiting Clos Roche Blanche and other Touraine domaines.