Monday january 31st to wednesday 2nd was when the Loire Valley wine fair was held in Angers , along the Loire river . 570 estates and wineries were present . Exceptional opportunity to taste and meet the owners and the winemakers . This is open to wine professionals and buyers only and they come from all over France and the world ( estimated 9000 visitors rom 25 countries ) . This wine fair is one of the most sought-after by wine professionals and I was happy to be part of it as it sheds light on the very rich diversity of the Loire Valley Appellations and terroirs .
Here are a few pics shot while tasting great wines , mostly from estates I did not know yet .
Ever heard about "Noble Joué" ? Smallest appellation of the Loire area . 30 hectares altogether . Very recent also ( 2001 ) . This is actually an old wine already known in the 15th century ( Louis IX ) wich had its glory apogee in the 19th century , before the phyloxera . It then nearly disappeared . Noble Joué is a "vin gris" made from Pinot Gris ( 30-35 %), Pinot Noir ( 10-15%) and Pinot-Meunier (55%) . Very beautiful rosé at 4 Euro , from Rousseau Freres in Esvres "Le Vau" .
At last we meet Junko Arai, who owns a wine estate near Mareuil sur Cher ( along the Cher river ). Her story is highly interesting . First , she is from Japan and runs an importation business for french wines to the japanese market . Then , as it happens sometimes, her love affair with wine translated into making wine herself... Her estate is Domaine des Bois Lucas . Pictured here with chai master Noëlla Morantin and a bottle of Gamay "Cuvée Kuniko" 2003 : An incredible Gamay made possible by the 2003 millesime . We will visit her soon , more info then...
Jo Pithon makes outstanding Chenin wines on Anjou , Coteaux du Layon and Savennieres . Among the 7 wines we tasted there was an exceptional Anjou Bonnes Blanches 2002 , old vines ( 40 years) with meticulous work, 20-25 hectoliter/hectare, very little SO2 , new casks . Powerful . 18 Euro .Frustrating not to write about the other we tasted . More when we visit . Pictured here with Quarts de Chaume , Les Varennes 2002 , one of the 3 Moelleux we tasted .2 years in new casks , less than 10 ho/hectare . nice . 70 Euro in 75 cl .
My wine notes remind me here also the nice moments we had when we tasted 5 different reds of the Domaine de la Charmoise . We indeed have to plan a lot of visits in the Loire Valley . Need to see the places where all these wines are made and slowly matured .
Just some notes about the bottle and the pic : Touraine Gamay "Premiere Vendange" 2004, 100% natural : Vinification , fermentation , maturation, bottling . Not chaptalized , no sulphur added , nowhere . Written on the bottle . Very delicate , the most beautiful wine of the Domaine, according to Henry Marionnet .
The INAO , the Appellations authority, is often seen as an abstract administrative entity . But it has also a human face and many INAO engineers and technicians are in close contact with the vineyard reality , visiting the estates , looking at the soil and the vines and meeting winemakers , year around .
Here is Jean Michel Passal , an INAO engineer who oversees the region , discussing and tasting with Francis Jourdain, Valencay wine producer ( Valencay Appellation is less than a year old ) .
B. and I were indulging in tasting once more Catherine et Pierre Breton's wines when two americans joined . I noticed the name on the tag of one of them : Joe Dressner , and dared to present myself . I had visited several times his website and liked very much the style of his approach to the estates and wines he imports in the U.S. , with articles where you feel he personally knows the people and the places . Not always the case on the importers' websites .
I could have been an annoyance with my desire to talk and take a pic, but he gently agreed, if, he said, Isabelle Pithon could join with Catherine Breton . He enquired about why make a wine weblog in english . As I often say, french people live next door to this wine landscape in their daily life . I said I thought more interesting to share it in english with the rest of the world which can't visit the places as easily . Anyway , he is a nice person and I'm happy of our brief talk.
Thierry Germain was an outsider in the Loire Valley when he left the Bordeaux region where his family owns vineyards .
He now makes some of the most outstanding Saumur Champigny wines in the Appellation . His Marginale 2000 was selected by japanese sommelier Shinya Tasaki in a list of the 60 "best wines of the world" , setting off big demand for his wines there . His Domaine des Roches Neuves Marginale 2003 is superb , with quite a "sucrosité en bouche" , a sugar feel in the mouth . 20-25 ho/ha, with a terroir right on chalk ( reverberates the summer heat )
Chateau de Villeneuve , an estate with beautiful white Saumur, as well as red Saumur Champigny . Of the 6 wines we tasted , I remember , and my notes underline, a great white : Chateau de Villeneuve Saumur "Les Cormieres" 2002 . Great dry wine . Balanced , with long long lengh in mouth . Purity . Vineyard spot on very thin layer of turonian clay-limestone . Yann Lelias say it was already a beautiful millesime before the grapes reached the cellar at harvest time . Different things I saw about the estate make me want to visit soon .