Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 876 : Day Three in the Loire Valley

So where did we leave off?

With the local chevres – each more delectable than the next…

After a gorgeous run through the fields of sunflowers and hills of vines, we set out yesterday morning to go visit Domaine Huet in Vouvray, about an hour away on tiny one lane roads weaving through ancient French towns, each more pleasant than the next but strikingly without a soul present in any of the establishments or on the streets.

So what separates Vouvray from Chinon in terms of wine production you might be wondering? Well Vouvray is all about whites and bubbles! In Vouvray you tend to find – Sec, Demi-Sec, and Moelleux style whites along with the variety of bubbles on offer. The classic Vouvray style wine is Demi-Sec, not too sweet, not too dry, nice and minerally yet fruity with a citrusy, grassy tang, medium bodied on the tongue yet light as well. Great with fish dishes and a wide variety of local cheeses. Ok, so maybe you’re like me and you really only like super crisp whites, give yourself over to the Vouvray Demi-Sec, it surely is a nice change of pace.

At Domaine Huet we had the pleasure of tasting through their entire line of stills, sparklings, and Moelleux wines. Domaine Huet has vines in three different plots – Le Haut-Lieu (deep brown clay based soil giving way to full bodied round wines), Le Mont, (bordering on a hillside, this is stony green clay and silica based soil giving way to refined and elegant wines) and lastly Le Clos du Bourg (located right about the church of Vouvray with shallow limestone soil that tends to give way to solid well-formed wines.) For someone interested in terroir and in the difference in the taste and structure profile of a wine based on the type of soil, Domaine Huet was a goldmine – the same grapes planted in the same region but simply grown with different soil profiles produces such a wide variety of wines! By favorite was the Demi-Sec Le Mont 2011, a beautiful, well composed and elegant wine.

Moving along from Huet, we stopped at Chateau Moncontour, a fifteenth century chateau that was said to be Balzac’s life-long dream to own, except unfortunately he never had a sufficient amount of money to purchase the property. Needless to say, they had quite the selection of bubbles and still wines. My favorite was their Vouvray Cuvee Predilection 2008 “Grande Reserve” – delicate and refined yet full bodied and full of flavor nuances – nutty and toasty with bright orange citrus notes and fantastically small bubbles. This was special occasion bubbles done well.

After lunch at a cute local bistro in Vouvray, we ventured to Bourgueil, with the hopes of a few more visits here and there. Well that did not go as planned unfortunately – either we could not seem to locate what we were looking for even if both our car and phone GPS informed us that yes we were there or well it was the middle of August and the Domaine or Fromagiste was closed up tight. So where did we stop, just past the fourth left turn in Restigne, down the tiny road sandwiched by vines around the second bend at Domaine de la Chevalerie. There we discovered the “pere” of the domaine, a tenth generation winemaker who was picking renne claudes from the property’s trees. He escorted us down to their caves where we were able to see their Bourgueils aging in bottles dating back to the late 1960s – this was small family production at its best. As the “pere” put it, “they’re about family not business nor commercialization.” Their wines are only available for small purchase and they are not distributed in any restaurants. It is so rare to see such familial history and passion in the wine making business like this anywhere but in France. A great way to end the day!

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