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From Renaissance to the Salon

It’s Monday morning and I’m in Angers for the annual round of tastings that centre on (but are certainly not limited to) the Salon des Vins de Loire. I arrived on Friday evening, and having been tasting all weekend the trip is already half done. Time always flies by on this trip.

I spent Saturday at the Renaissance tasting which – for the Loire domaines at least – was hosted in the Hôpital Saint Jean in Angers. As I anticipated it was a great venue, with a beautiful vaulted ceiling, fairly good light, and certainly plenty of space. Unusually, however, all the vignerons were tightly packed together in the centre of the hall, making very poor use of this space. I later learnt this was because the hôpital, which houses some modern tapestries and is one of several registered museums in Angers, was still open as a museum. To limit the likelihood of a natural-wine-taster bumping into a tapestry-viewer (which would presumably have a result akin to the meeting of matter and anti-matter) the Renaissance tasting was restricted to a very narrow strip in the centre of the hall. As a result by early afternoon it was just as crammed as ever, the crowds three- or four-deep at the tables. Great if you are there for a bit of a beano with your mates. Not so good if you actually want to concentrate on the wines, chat to the vignerons, and write some informative notes.

As for the wines, I tasted a lot from 2015 and 2014, plus some from 2016 and a few older vintages. I tasted where I felt I absolutely had to – Richard Leroy, Nicolas Joly, Mark Angeli, Eric Nicolas – before then dipping in elsewhere, revisiting some domaines I know well, but instead of focusing solely on ‘revisits’ I was pleased to also taste with some unfamiliar domaines from Anjou, the Côte Roannaise and elsewhere.

From Renaissance to the Salon

Sunday was the first day of the Salon des Vins de Loire, and it was a quiet day. The number of exhibitors is down again this year – I don’t need to look at any numbers to make that statement, it is obvious from the way in which the halls have been used. I don’t want to focus on that for the moment though, and will come back to that in a later post. Visitor numbers also seemed to be very small, as it was incredibly quiet, but it was Sunday, and some visitors may have chosen to go to all the ‘off’ salons instead. Or to spend a lazy day in bed, maybe.

I launched headlong into tasting, only coming up for air at lunchtime, before diving in once again. I focused on big tastings at Anjou domaines, so went to Domaine de la Bergerie, Château Pierre-Bise (tasting with René Papin, pictured above) and Domaine Ogereau, as well as dipping my toe into the waters of Muscadet, Fiefs-Vendéens and Montlouis. That might not sound like much, but there was a lot of Muscadet in there.

Today (Monday) I am heading back to the Salon des Vins de Loire. I expect visitor numbers to be up today, but it will be interesting to see just how busy it gets. I already have a huge hit-list of domaines to visit, and it seems inevitable that I won’t get everything done. Thank heavens I also have tomorrow morning here, and of cause there is always Vinovision……

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