Ancient Vintages from Château de Fesles, 2011

This was no private jet, but it seemed pretty close. With all three seats in my row to myself, and the small number of other passengers out of sight at least several rows behind me, this flight was one of the more peaceful and solitary that I have undertaken in all my Winedoctor travels. I flipped up all the armrests and made the most of my unexpectedly spacious environment, and took a peek out of the window.

For some reason – I never thought to enquire why – we were cruising at an altitude of only 24,000 feet, much lower than the norm which – and I only know this because on occasion I actually listen to the pilot’s announcements – tends to be somewhere around 33,000 feet. With a clear, cloud-free sky providing good visibility all the way to the haze of the horizon, and at a slightly lower altitude than is usual, I had a superb view of the ground below. There, snaking across the patchwork quilt of fields and vineyards was, unmistakably, the Loire. It slowly wound its way through the landscape, its lazy appearance compounded by a never-ending string of sandy islands streaked along its length. This was the Loire alright, and my spotting it at this moment seemed quite appropriate. After all, I was en route for one of the grandest tastings of my life, and it was to feature one of the Loire’s most iconic and yet rarely sighted wines. I had an evening of Bonnezeaux ahead of me.

We landed ten minutes ahead of schedule, for which I was grateful, as I only had an hour or two before the tasting and dinner. The airport was a familiar one, but I was nowhere near the Loire. The flight had continued on to Mérignac, not Bonnezeaux but Bordeaux, and my destination was a suburb of this city, where I was to meet up with the descendants of Jean Boivin, the proprietor of Château des Fesles for much of the 20th century.

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