I have encountered many hurdles and hiccups on my way to tasting appointments, with wayward road signs providing dodgy directions being a particular favourite. I find satellite navigation can help in this respect, however, and getting hopelessly lost now seems to occur less frequently than it once did; these days, I usually know exactly where I am going – down to pinpoint, map-coordinate accuracy – before I even set off. With a busy schedule of tastings lined up, especially during a day of tasting at the primeurs in Bordeaux, for example, such technology can be a lifesaver. Well, a schedule-saver, at least.
Even satellite navigation would not have helped with my first ever trip to see the Luneau-Papin family though; it was not finding the domaine that was the problem, it was finding the road. Overnight, a thick blanket of snow had been thrown across the vineyards of the Nantais, obscuring all sight of the ground beneath. As I crept along the untreated, ungritted, unploughed country roads around Le Landreau I knew that somewhere beneath there was tarmac. I also knew that somewhere nearby were a couple of deep roadside ditches. I had visions of landing in one, only to be rescued weeks later by a passing vigneron, my car pulled from the icy abyss by tractor and chains, the story no doubt front page news for the latest edition of The Drinks Business.