This weekend was "jour de fete" in Valencay . The Valencay wine world held two days of festivities to celebrate the access to the new Valencay AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlée) label officially obtained in march 2004) . The Valencay wines are : Reds_Gamay Noir majority , Pinot Noir ,Cot(Malbec), Pineau d'Aunis . Whites_Sauvignon majority , Chardonnay . Rosés_ Pineau d'Aunis , Pinot Noir . The Valencay Appellation, named from the small town of Valencay (map), is one of the Loire Valley wine Appellations, and makes a total of 200 hectares on a global surface of 2400 hectares spread between 14 communes (villages) of the Indre departement, and 1 commune in the Loir et Cher departement (Selles sur Cher). Total production : 8000 hectoliters . 60% Valencay red , 30% Valencay whites, the rest in Valencay rosé . These are little known wines wich are very good value and reserve many surprises , especially for their whites (and also their reds that I have been buying directly at the domaines for several years) . Where can you find a good wine for 3,5 Euro a bottle , wich is the usual price around here ?
All day in the central square of the town , tastings and music [Picture upper left : female singer-musician of the "Dine et Deon" trio] with the presence of local and regional officials , and the Secretaire d'Etat à l'Agriculture Nicolas Forissier , and of course of all the concerned wine producers , Francis Jourdain , Hubert sinson , Jean Francois Roy , Regis mandard , M. Vaillant of the Coop , and many others...
After a grey , chilly, and sometimes wet august, this early september is sunny, with temperatures even warmer than usual (30-31° C)
To familiarize the visitors with the vineyard, a free bus takes them every 1/2 hour from Valencay central square to the middle of the vineyard where a winegrower explains the local grape varieties, the soil and many other things . After this educational visit done along 1 1/2 km walk among the vineyard ranks, you reach a "loge de vigne", one of these shelters commonly built at the beginning of the century in the region to accommodate 2 horses and about 10 workers . There, in this small house sitting in the middle of the vineyard far from the villages , the workers and horses of that time rested and took shelter from the rain . Today, the "loge" , wich has been restored, hosts a free tasting of the different types of Valencay wines , selected from their different soils : "les graves", les cosses", les silex" . No producer name for these demonstration white wines that are selected for their strong terroir characterisics . Excellent whites, by the way . Majority Sauvignon , 10% Chardonnay in the first 2 , 20% in the last . Picture on right : An italian amateur enjoying the day .
The first time the regional committee of the INAO considered the Valencay Appellation rules and conditions was april 26 1982 . 22 years later , and with a big work and quality improvements, with the energetic efforts of people like Jean Le Metayer and Francis Jourdain , this was done . As says Nicolas Forissier from the Agriculture ministry , the move for an even better quality is the way. He adds a lot will be changed very soon to clarify the Appellation system & rules as for what can be indicated on the labels . He is right, as for consumers outside of France_and even inside_, distinctions between the regions , appellations, and the absence of grape variety names is confusing .
During the two day event , visitors could purchase a special Valencay glass on the town's square (2,5 Euro) and taste freely at the wine producer's stand the whites, rosés and reds on this same central square. I heard some one saying the Gendarmerie would check the drivers on the outside roads , but I havent seen any , except among the assembly .
Sunday morning at 11 am , a mass was celebrated in the Clos du Chateau . This is a vineyard , surrounded by big old walls, on the Valencay chateau grounds . On this vineyard , in the open with the chateau at close distance , people took seats , an altar was installed . The priest, helped by lay people, families ,and the choir, held a real mass . The choir , "la Schola Sainte Cecile" , from Chateauroux I think, was a dynamic 30 singers group .
After the mass , back on the central square (very close, 5 minutes on foot) where an aperitif is offered under the covered halle . I indulge myself with a few drinks and discover the Valencay rosé , especially the one of Francis Jourdain wich I am served . Very correct wine indeed .