This weekend saw the arrival of a group of old friends and work colleagues from the UK. They filled the house and vineyards with their laughter, had fun with the dogs, cycled to the boulangerie, had supper in a cave and didn't get arrested once. Here is Angela demonstrating the age old art of campanology!?!
A happy crowd above the Loire River with views over Saumur. Is that a lesser spotted striped winged red starred field crest I can see in the distance ?
Good food and wine was enjoyed at the Tresor Belge in Pouancay. An excellent red cabernet franc from Nicolas Reau - L'Enfant Terrible was enjoyed by all along with a Thierry Germain White from Roches Neuves - L'Insolite all delicious.
18th May 2007 - A Couple of Loire Chateaux to Visit
On the 22nd April 2001 at 2 o'clock in the morning the ramparts of the Saumur chateau began to slide down the hillside. Work has been on going since then to secure the walls and today we have been invited by Monsieur Le Marie of Saumur to go and inspect the work now that it is finished! Louis 1st Duke of Anjou must be impressed!
A short drive along the banks of the River Loire from Saumur and you arrrive at Montsoreau the closest Loire chateau to the river. It used to be completely moated and guests of old would have arrived by boat from other chateaux along the river for sumptuous banquets and parties.
Mid May 2007
The view from the "Potager" (Vegetable Garden) at La Grande Maison. Out across the vineyards towards the Coteaux du Layon where the sweet late harvest white wines of the area are produced.
We try and home grow most of our vegetables and salads where we can organically. Including tomatoes, beans, potatoes, courgettes, lettuce, spinach, shallots, garlic and herbs...I could go on....but I won't suffice to say it is all used for the Wine Sampling Suppers that we offer on either Sunday or Monday nights. The lettuce seems to be doing well this year.
Early May 2007
A selection of wineries from this weekend's Wine Tour. Includes Domaine de la Paleine. A happy group of tasters along with Patrick, the wine maker who produces excellent reds, whites, rose, sparkling and dessert wines.
Pascale pours a rich Saumur Champigny at Chateau de Targe in the tasting room cut directly into the rock face. The vines grow above the limestone caves producing well structured reds to drink now or to keep for 5-8 years.
Chateau Coulaine in Chinon is a stunning chateau with equally stunning bio-dynamic wines. Their wines and winemaking philosophy are best summed up by the family name 'Bonnaventure'. They have an adventurous spirit with wines certainly worth discovering. Also produce wines in the Touraine.
Catherine & Pierre Breton, based in Bourgueil have been leading the experimental field in increasingly natural grape growing and wine making techniques. 10 years ago they began to make wines without the use of sulphur. So no headaches... allegedly! Wines to keep below 14oC.
Incredible! Sebastian David's barrel storage area is cut deep into the hillside at St Nicolas de Bourgueil. A 2km drive through a labyrinth of tunnels was rewarded by a tasting of the 2005 directly from the barrel. SUB-LIME.....exactly!!
End of April 2007
Humble & Willow can often be seen taking a well earned rest around the garden. Favourite pastimes at the moment include chasing lizards, hares, rabbits and hedgehogs. Throw a ball for Willow and you will have a companion all day.
The iris's outside the main gates of La Grande Maison have put on a stunning display this year. There are pinks, yellows, purples. blues and whites and they bloom over a succession of weeks, different colours appearing often at different times. The best time to come if you want to see the iris's in full bloom is from mid-April to mid-May.
The festival at Le Thoureil where the traditional wooden boats set sail on the Loire River. Music, good food and local wine are all available. With an opportunity to wander around the craft stalls and see some of the work of the local artists. Festivals like these are held along the Loire River during April and May.
If you are interested in antique hunting and enjoy looking around markets then why not come to one of the Sunday "Brocante" markets held weekly in the area. This one is pictured at Montsoreau a beautiful riverside location with cafes where you can stop for a glass of chilled wine or take a coffee.