This Euro/UK trip can be thought of as ABA form in music: Music/Wine/Music. Music in Austria, Ireland, Scotland and England/ Wine in France and Italy/Music in Germany. In the B section, we have just finished our first theme, the Loire Valley. Unfortunately, Loire Valley wines are the ugly step-child (my words) of the big 3: Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne. On the other hand, wine tasting is free, open, easy and most of the wines range in the $6-$11 range. Suffice to say, Grand Cru in Bordeaux region will be another story all together (by appt and 50euro and up). In the mean time, we enjoy the moulin (mill) where we are staying (biking, jogging and canoeing) and the wines that we have tasted on the Rue de Vin and in Chinon. Let’s start with Chinon.
Chinon is a medieval town along the Loire River dating back to about 1100. The wine caves are built into the rock below the castle, and were dug at the time the castle was built. Uh, yeah, wine since the 1100’s. The rock is limestone, and permeates the flavor of wines here including red, white and rose (and sparkling rose). Here is the castle:
Most of it is in ruin, but what you see was restored around 2000, to the tune of $14million. the views of the town and valley below are quite cool:
…and from the other directions:
The area is most known for Cabernet Franc, but to be honest, it isn’t that good according to my taste. I am a fan of Cab Franc from grapes grown in California (We often add Cab Franc to our blending when bottling Malbec at Rickards, so I have tasted the grape in its purest form, at least in California), but was sorely disappointed with the reds here; very mineraly and lacking depth. Maybe it’s the limestone. What the region is less known for are the whites: Chenin Blanc. Close to the name of the town ie Chinon. These wines were about 6euro a bottle and I thought they out-shined the reds. The Rose’s are good here too, and even better when sparkling. Who knew, since in general, most rose’s are too sweet for me. The grape for the whites often makes up less than 5% of the vineyards at these wineries, however. Still, I found them much better in nose, palette and finish. Ok, enough about the wine. Check out the caves:
The wine lady got in front of that one (photo bombed!) And a shot of the town:
The chateau where we had the best sparkling wine:
Chinon’s other claim to fame? In 1429, Joan of Arc stopped here and got permission from the King to help assemble an army in nearby Orleans to fight the enemy of the day. What a great visit, and about one case of wine purchased for maybe a total of 80euro….On to St. Emilion! See you soon!