Domaine de la Chevalerie
While Bourgueil and St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil might not have the same cachet as the best-known red wine appellation in the Loire Valley, which must surely be Chinon, it would be a mistake to think of these two appellations as minor or insignificant, as regions that could be safely ignored. Indeed, there is a remarkable winemaking heritage here, and there are a handful of domaines turning out top quality wines that can challenge any made along the length of the Loire. Or the Vienne, for that matter.
The two appellations – which from a wine drinker’s point of view may be considered as one wine region, as one does not really offer anything that the other does not – are located on the right bank of the Loire. Bourgueil is certainly the more significant town, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil more of a hamlet on the road leading west out of Bourgueil, but from a vinous point of view the topography is the same. The vines all sit on a slope of limestone and gravel to the north that runs parallel to the course of the Loire, the flatter land that runs down to the river itself more suited for other agriculture, as pasture for cattle or for arable crops, although there are certainly some vines to be found here too.
In this the set up is very much like Chinon, which lies about 17 kilometres south and east a little, except of course Chinon lies on the Vienne rather than the Loire. In some respects, in view of the positions of the two appellations, it is perhaps curious that Chinon came to be the more prominent; perhaps the latter’s association with François Rabelais, or maybe the town’s historical prominence – several English kings including Henry II and Richard the Lionheart, and even Joan of Arc crop up in Chinon’s story – has had some positive effect on the fame of the wines.