The Trout here, posting again about Chateaus and the wine of the Loire.
We chose the Loire region for out first week of touring in France with a second week in Normandy for 2006. I have loved castles way back when we were stationed in Heidelberg in 1968, when we would tour 1-2 castles a weekend it seemed, for most of the year. France certainly has its share of great chateaus like Chateau Chenonceau above that seem to be used more for a King's residence rather than for taking shelter from marauding pillagers!
The Loire is also the home of Joan of Arc who supposedly performed miracles as a 13-year-old warrior way back when she led battles to drive the British out of France. She is memorialized throughout France for her heroics in battle!
We chose this dovecote gîte near Chinon for our Loire stay. It was once home to hundreds of pigeons who were kept for food and fertilizer. The gîte was well restored for humans and very comfortable.
The dovecote is part of the Chateau de la Vauguyon which was build way back in 1340-50! It has been owned by the same family since the '30's. The chateau has seen better days, but is being slowly repaired to its past glory with a second gîte now available in the main building.
The current owner is the son Celian Duthu who is a wonderful host and tour guide for enjoying our week in the Loire. One day, he wanted to take us to visit his favorite wine producers for white and red wines.
This is Celian and Susan in the vineyards of Domaine de la Noblaie, home of his favorite Chenin Blanc white wine. Chenin Blanc is not my favorite white as I find it a bit flabby and soft vs. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc like a Sancerre. We did buy a couple of bottles for our later evening repasts at the Chateau.
While at the Domaine, we were introduced to a lovely lady who owned and ran the Auberge du Val de Vienne. She was selecting wines for her cellar to offer to her guests. We later had lunch there which was supurb and what a wonderful dining room.
Our next stop was at the Chateau de la Grille, Celian's favorite red wine producer. It has been sold to the Baudry-Dutour group of 3 wineries in the Loire. Reds are made from the Cabernet France grape which is pretty much isolated to the Loire for making wines solely from this varietal. It is used a lot for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux and in the Napa. It is softer than its big brother and it adds finesse and perfume to the blend. By itself, we found a wide range of like (nice, soft with lovely fruit and flower notes) to dislike (harsh green vegetal flavors and leaves to green bell peppers).
We tasted the 1996 and 2000 vintages of their offering which we liked enough to buy and bring home for the cellar. We practically had to take an oath that we hold these wines for at least 6-8 years to allow them to soften and bring out their best finish. Their wines were pretty tannic early in life and needed to lay down for several years.
We have faithfully let them age until I took both out of storage. After finding a beautiful bone-in rib eye, I decided it was time to try the 2000 bottle. After decanting for 3 hours, we were delighted to find this wine had indeed aged to a very nice wine of berry notes with a nice long finish perfect with the steak.
Thanks Celian for helping us enjoy the Loire region which continues today with the lovely wines we brought home 6 years ago!! We look forward to trying the 1996 soon as well.