Western Loire - Two Day Wine Tour
The Loire, France’s longest and most majestic river. Its beautiful countryside is bathed in a unique light enhancing further its many dramatic Rennaiscance Chateaux while gently ripenning the grapes from France’s most diverse wine region. I am continuing,with great pleasure, my explorations here but for starters maybe two days on its western reaches. A first morning enjoying the wonderful crisp fruity whites from the Muscadet Sevre et Maine region just south of Nantes. Lunch on the banks of the Loire followed by tastings in Anjou then on to the elegant town of Saumur overlooking the Loire and its glorious château.
From Day two a short drive from Saumur and an immersion in the delicate reds, rosés and a few whites from Bourgueil, Chinon and Saumur Champigny. Many of these wines will be tasted deep inside amazing medieval troglodytic cellars dug directly into the soft limestone cliffs. The countryside here is a collage of ancient wine villages, stunning chateaux and vineyards and of course the mighty Loire.
Guests picked up from their hotel in Nantes by Brendan for the short drive south to the vineyards of the Muscadet Sevre et Maine appellation. These once modest wines have seen their repuations soar in recent years thanks to a combination of dynamic new wine producers and quality selective legislation. They now boast their own Cru’s including the villages of Gorges, Clisson and Le Pallet which is where we will spend this morning. Depending on departure time it should be possible to visit, taste and enjoy the production from three award winning estates. Although the crisp dry Muscadets will be the focus of our attention these producers have a wonderful pallet of other regional wines including sumptious reds and delightful sparkling cremants. I should add that vinteners are as charming and approachable as their wines. Around noon drive to the banks of the Loire and follow it upstream with a picnic or simple café lunch en route. Then dip down one of the Loire’s tributaries, the Layon, to taste the multitude of facets from the chenin blanc grape here in the Coteau de Layon appellation. A short drive back to the Loire and the elegant town of Saumur , our destination for the evening, overlooking the river and magestically overlooked by its Château.
Saumur, apart from being a great base for the night, is flanked by vineyards on both banks and with the nearby towns of Bourgueil and Chinon they produce my favourite red wines from the cabernet franc grape. Not only are the wines from here delicious, the cellars themselves are worth the visit. For centuries the local population has taken advantage of the soft limestone cliffs to excavate the stone for building and also to create troglodytic dwellings in the cliff face. Some of the cellars extend for many kilometres underground and I've driven through many of them enroute to visit a wine producer. It's fascinating. And the wines and producers are great. As you’ll discover after spending the morning tasting firstly in Bourgueil then south across the Loire (through the cooling towers of the impressive nuclear power station) to Chinon with its vast ruined château. Cafe lunch in the old town centre with time to explore on foot. Prior to driving back down the Loire and visiting and tasting wines in amazing atmospheric cellars from the Saumur Champigny appellation including delicious uplifting sparkling wines to ensure you finish the day on a high. Return to Saumur for another fun night with many great local restaurants to choose from.
And for those who’d like to explore the Loire further then I’d gladly add another day to take us east into the adjacent Touraine region with its many delights…Or come back for another tour...