Tasting at La Table, 2012: Domaine de la Bergerie

There was a still a soft blanket of snow cushioning the vines at Domaine de la Bergerie when we arrived. France had, until late into January at least, been enjoying a relatively mild winter, drier than the norm in many parts, with hours of sunshine much higher than expected. But no more. It was mid-afternoon on the first Saturday in February 2012, and for the first two weeks of this month – the date of this year’s Salon des Vins de Loire – the ‘Hexagon’ had been plunged into a mini-Ice Age. Despite warmer temperatures later in the month, this was France’s coldest February since 1986, and the fourth coldest since 1947. That was a great vintage of course (for Bordeaux, as well as the Loire). A portent of good things to come perhaps? Well, we can hope.

Stars of the Layon at RSJ, 2010

Jim Budd, Tom King (of London’s RSJ restaurant, which surely has the most Loire-heavy list outside of the Loire Valley itself) and I tumbled out of the warmth of our car into the bitter cold outside. We were here to meet proprietor Yves Guégniard (pictured below) and to taste his latest wines, followed by the wines of two other leading Anjou domaines, Château Pierre-Bise, where geologist-vigneron Claude Papin holds court, and the indefatigable Vincent Ogereau. But being hardy souls we headed first down into the vineyards, in the company of Yves. And before long we were joined by Vincent. Claude was still busy it seemed, and would join us later.

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