It’s time for my second big Loire tasting trip of the month. After four days in Angers last week for the Salon des Vins de Loire and associated tastings, I landed in Paris yesterday and later today I will be heading to Vinovision, France’s cool climate wine fair.
Last year’s Vinovision (the first ever year for this fair) was, to my mind, a real success. I spent three days working my way around the Loire Valley, and tasted a huge amount of wine. There were some big-name domaines in attendance, many of which I knew pretty well already so it was great to catch up with the latest vintages, but I also met a large number of vignerons I hadn’t met or tasted with before (some of last year’s exhibitors are pictured below). Having looked at the list of exhibitors for this year, although some of the names have changed, it otherwise looks like the same set up. Today I expect to be tasting the latest from Henri Bourgeois, Couly-Dutheil, Château de Villeneuve and others. But of course I also have a selection of less familiar names on my list for the day.
One aspect of this tasting I really like is that it is open to any of the region’s vignerons, so it gives Loire-interested people (like me!) a chance to taste across the spectrum, from huge operations such as Bouvet-Ladubay down to lone winemakers working just a hectare or two of vines, such as Adèle Rouzé, for example. How someone works in the vines isn’t a bar to entry, so the domaines here are conventional, raisonnée, organic and biodynamic. Anything goes! And so the wines can be judged on the basis of what is in the glass, rather than some notion of how the vines were farmed.
As a commentator on the region, this open-minded approach is really valuable to me. The problem with many of the UK tasting opportunities which feature Loire Valley wines (among others), such as RAW and the Real Wine Fair, is that they focus on winemaking dogma. As a consequence you get a view of just a narrow subsection of the region, and despite what the organisers of those tastings might tell us this narrow view of the region isn’t a guarantee to finding the best wines; the spread of quality is no different to at a tasting of conventionally made wines. And for me, these tastings also provided little more than duplication; many vignerons I would meet there I had already tasted with during the Salon des Vins de Loire and Renaissance tastings.
If I could just pop along to tastings such as RAW and the Real Wine Fair I would continue to attend, but as attendance usually involves flying down from Edinburgh and is certainly not a zero-cost exercise I decided to look around for other tasting opportunities. Vinovision came along at just the right time. I am looking forward to my first day of the 2018 edition immensely. First job of the day, though, is café and a pain au raisin.