Tue 26 Jul 2011

We sought the Loire and the … Loire won

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The gardens at the Château de Valmer

It was a pleasure to visit Loire producers recently with my Tastings and Events colleague, Ewan Murray, in the company of 48 members, partners and guests. Whilst the weather was not very kind to us, especially on the Saturday evening, our chosen Loire representatives certainly were. We were based in Tours, allowing us to go both east and west to find some great wines with fascinating and most hospitable growers.

Highlights for me included the personal introduction to the beautiful gardens at the Château de Valmer (Vouvray), courtesy of Alpha Loire

Huet's Benjamin Joliveau

Domaines – one to go back to when the sun is shining; getting to know young winemaker Benjamin Joliveau a littlebetter at Domaine Huet, also in Vouvray; my first visit to Gratien & Meyer in Saumur, whose bubbles make them buyer Marcel Orford Williams’ patch rather than mine, though I drive past their imposing site near Saumur on a regular basis.

Did you know that 15 to 25 base wines are used to build each Gratien & Meyer cuvée? They produce c. 3 million bottles a year, matured in three miles of man-made chambers dug into the tuffeau. What struck me most, though, was that some in our party were not aware that Gratien & Meyer (Saumur) and Champagne Alfred Gratien (suppliers to The Society for over 100 years) are part of the same company. Which is just one reason why Gratien & Meyer produce such good fizz!

Carving in Gratien & Meyer's cellars

If you are passing later this month or next (Fridays 29th July, and 5,12,19 & 26 August) you could try out one of their “Jazz-Bulles” (Jazz & Fizz) evenings, from 7.00 – 9.00pm, €5 per head, including a couple of glasses for tasting.

We packed three wine tastings, two cellar tours, two lunches and a dinner into our 34 hours – what would your top tips be while touring in the Loire valley?

Joanna Locke MW
Loire Buyer

Categories : Loire, Wine Tastings

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