Almost to my surprise, I ended up in Angers this weekend.
Of course, it was not really a surprise. But you know how things have been of late. Unsure of how international travel would develop, whether restrictions would ease or become more stringent, and whether I might get Covid-19 myself, I left booking travel to the Salon Saint-Jean in the glorious 12th-century Hôpital Saint-Jean (pictured below – at the tasting on Saturday) in Angers until the last minute. And so, having expected something to go wrong, it was thus something of a surprise when last Friday I landed in Paris, en route for Angers, without a hitch.
Things weren’t exactly smooth sailing after that. Brexit means long delays at passport control now; I queued to get my passport stamped, as I did so watching EU citizens sail though the electronic passport gates; the gates soon fell silent, their work done, while us third-country citizens slowly shuffled our way forwards, wasting the best part of an hour. I need not have fretted about time wasted though, as my train from Paris to Angers was delayed by 30 minutes. Then 1 hour. Then 1 hour 30 minutes. Then 2 hours. Certainly long enough for me to develop an alternative plan, should it eventually be cancelled.
In the end it arrived, and I eventually trundled into Angers 2 hours and 25 minutes behind schedule. It was midnight. Fortunately I know my way around the centre of Angers pretty well, and I managed to locate and gain access to my accommodation just twenty minutes later.
It is great to be back tasting fact-to-face. The full list of vignerons I have tasted with this weekend would be too long to trot out here, but it includes Damien Laureau, Tessa Laroche, Emmanuel Ogereau, Martial Angeli, Virginie Joly and many more. A lot of things have changed in the space of the last two or three years. I was able to meet Vanessa Cherruau, the new face at Château de Plaisance, not to mention the new team at Terra Vita Vinum (previously Domaine Richou), the new owners of Domaine de Montcy (sold by Laura Semeria) as well as the new proprietors of Domaine Drost (previously the domaine of Philippe and Catherine Delesvaux). It has been a hectic two days of new faces and new wines. Let’s just say I have a lot of updating to do.
Having spent Saturday and Sunday at the above tasting, I am still here in Angers. Today (Monday) I am heading to La Levée de la Loire in Saumur (by train – hoping for no delays this time), and I will be back in the UK later this week. I had hoped to have had all my Bordeaux 2019 reports published before leaving, but it turns out that my maths is not as strong as I had thought, and in the end I was so busy keeping all the plates spinning that I gave up trying. So once I am back I will finish up my Pessac-Léognan (white and red), Rest of the Right, Appellation Bordeaux and Sauternes instalments. This ‘normal’ service will be resumed on Wednesday.