A Visit to Domaine de la Noblaie, 2016

After a couple of cloudy days the sun had finally put in a convincing appearance over Chinon. And this was no half-hearted appearance, no lazy dart from behind a bank of cumulonimbus only to disappear again ten minutes later. The sky was a bright azure blue, with just a few high wisps of white to be seen, a near-blank canvas upon which a thrilling white-gold orb was quickly climbing towards the zenith. Only two days beforehand the temperatures had been decidedly chilly, but no more. I could feel the sun beating down on the back of the neck, and it wasn’t long before I was seeking out some shade. This is perhaps typical behaviour for a Brit abroad; we travel with the aim of soaking up some sun, but I am sure I am not alone in spending much of my time seeking out the sanctity of shade?

Domaine de la Noblaie

One person who welcomed the sunshine with open arms, however, was Jérôme Billard, (pictured above) of Domaine de la Noblaie. “At last, the summer has arrived”, he said as we shook hands (once he had found me, hiding in my shady corner). Indeed, in my two weeks in Chinon this was the phrase I heard vocalised most often. The owner of the cottage I rented for the duration said it; Matthieu Baudry said it; Benoît Amirault said it; I think even the check-out girls at the local Super U said it. After a long run of dismal weather through April (with that awful frost on the night of the 26th), May (with mildew aplenty) and June (more mildew, a touch of black rot, and hail here and there as well), finally the vines (and the vignerons) could take advantage of some warm and sunny weather.

Our weather appraisal done, Jérôme and I headed out into the vines.

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