Clos du Porteau
I have been in all sorts of cellars over the years. Brightly light cathedrals filled with Tuscan columns and pristine barrels, the central section stained claret red for no reason other than pure aesthetics. And cellars that were pitch black and icy cold, the ground underfoot slippery with damp and mould, a combination that would have any health and safety inspector incandescent with paperwork. And there have been many more in-between these two extremes, cool, modestly lit and functional, and usually manned by a vigneron ready – with pipette in hand – for a tasting of the very latest vintage.
None of these cellar memories match up to my experience at Clos du Porteau though. Because this was the first time my tasting notes of barrel samples were scribbled while being buzzed by a territorial bat.
At first I watched the bat with a sense of delight. There are bats roosting in my house south of Chinon, and as the light of the day begins to fade I enjoy watching them emerge to begin their nocturnal hunt. But my visit to Clos du Porteau was in the early afternoon, so this bat was presumably suffering from chiropteran insomnia. As I observed the bat exploring the various corners of the cellars I suddenly realised I should take a photograph, or even better a short video, as evidence of his existence.
Of course, at this point the bat promptly disappeared (although he did reappear later in the well-lit tasting room, which was even more surreal). So instead I turned my attention to Aynard de Clermont-Tonnerre (pictured below), proprietor of Clos du Porteau, and his wines.