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Loire 2007 at Fifteen Years

Loire 2007 at Fifteen Years

The summer of 2007 was, for me, a particularly memorable one. I rented a property not far to the north of Saumur, near the village of Parçay-les-Pins, the birthplace of sculptor Jules Desbois (1851 – 1935).

Although not a household name, Desbois was an accomplished visual artist who, after studying in Angers and Paris, spent many years working with his friend and collaborator, the rather better-known Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917). I should confess, before you conclude that this knowledge reflects the possession of a previously undisclosed art history degree, that I learnt everything I know of Desbois from a small museum dedicated to his work which is located in the heart of the village.

The museum was well worth a visit. As was, it has to be said, the village’s boulangerie, where each day I would load up with as many pains aux raisins and pains aux chocolats as I could carry, as well as my daily baguette.

Loire 2007 at Fifteen Years

Neither bread nor Desbois are the main foci of my memories of that summer though. Rather it was the vignerons I met, and although it was not the first time tasting their wines, it was in several cases the first time I called on them in situ, to see their vineyards and cellars. I toured the region, making every journey to the sound of Rihanna’s Umbrella which completely dominated the summer airwaves, being played on every station, seemingly at least once every hour.

I visited Philippe Alliet, although having said that in truth the eternally shy Philippe was nowhere to be seen; he had opted out of the appointment, leaving his wife Claude to say hello. I also paid Yannick Amirault a visit, and later on Sylvie Raffault at Olga Raffault, not to mention a handful of others. I was still enjoying the 2005 vintage in Saumur, Chinon and Bourgueil, at that time an uncommon success in those appellations. Of course, since then we have had 2009, 2010, and any number of high-quality vintages from 2014 onwards. Times (and the climate) have changed.

Nevertheless, that is what I remember of that trip; connecting with these vignerons in their cellars and tasting the great 2005 vintage. And sometimes their 2006s too. For the vignerons themselves, however, 2007 was perhaps rather less memorable. It was a year that started well, but became very difficult as summer progressed, wet conditions causing significant problems with mildew. Indeed, I think by mid-summer the Ligérian vignerons were in far more need of Rihanna’s parapluie than she was. In the end the season concluded with a harvest of mixed fortunes, quality rather variable in dry white and red, but with some excellent sweet wines.

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