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Wineries in Loire Valley


mjc
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A friend of mine is doing a language immersion program in the town of Sancerre in the Loire Valley. She asked me if I could find out about any wineries that she should be sure to visit. I figured this was the best place to find that out. Thanks for any tips.

Mike

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It's been a while since I've visited Sancerre, but as I recall there was a tourist office, or some such place in the middle of town that had information about the vinyards. Not all wineries are set up for visits and in many cases visits are made less by sightseers than be locals and traveling Frenchmen looking for wines to buy by the case to put in their trunk. Rarely are the wineries set up to accommodate the kind of visitors that flock to Napa Valley.

Robert Buxbaum

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Depending on their ability to get around the area they should not forget Chinon, Bourgeuil, Savonnieres, and Savennieres. If they are interested in reds the Raspberry flavors of Bourgeuil's are astounding and the Chinon Clos de Chene Vert are also spectacular. You might also post on the wine forum and see what other responses you might get. There are some really informed people that use that forum.

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  • 2 months later...

The Chateau de Nozet is one of the most stunning Baroque castles in the area. I believe it is nearby in the town of Pouilly-sur-Loire. It is owned by Baron Patrick de LaDoucette, one of the more well known Pouilly-Fumé producers. The Baron owns vineyards in Sancerre, as well, most notably La Poussie. (I'm not making that up!).

Mark

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Near Tours, in Vouvray, is Clos Baudoin... The wonderful place is run by Prince Poniatowski--ignore the name and go for a visit. He is an amazing host. And the wine is quite good, particularly 1989 and 1986... Both of which your friend will be invited to taste.

-Emily

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http://www.august18th2007.com

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We were just in this area in September.... There are literally dozens of little "Caves" every thousand yards along the highway. No need to make any particular one your destination. What you do is pull over, go in and they will let you taste all of their wines. Buy the one you like. Some even give you bread and cheese to really get a sense of the wines--- Some of these "Caves" have been in the same family for hundreds of years! These vignobles are always friendly and, if you speak a little French, are very interesting as well. Enjoy!

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We were just in this area in September....  There are literally dozens of little "Caves" every thousand yards along the highway.  No need to make any particular one your destination.  What you do is pull over, go in and they will let you taste all of their wines.  Buy the one you like.  Some even give you bread and cheese to really get a sense of the wines---  Some of these "Caves" have been in the same family for hundreds of years! These vignobles are always friendly and, if you speak a little French, are very interesting as well. Enjoy!

Bear in my mind that these caves are open to the public in hope of selling some wine. I'm not so sure they will welcome droves of overseas tourists who, unlike their French, Belgian, Swiss, Brittish, etc. counterparts, are not likely to tuck a case of a wine they like in the trunk of their car. Many of these little guys are quite pleased to entertain a visitor from overseas from time to time, but be judicious in accepting their hospitality, they're not there as a public service, they're running a business. Also be aware the French are getting quite tough in enforcing DUI laws.

My guess is that the cheese is there not to get a better sense of their wines, but to make the wines taste better. Of course if you're going to drink the wine with food, maybe it just another way of looking at it.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Well, of course these vignobles want to sell their wine, but you hardly realize that. Their hospitality is so sincere, and, if you choose not to buy anything, they treat you the same way as if you bought 12 cases.

I've always found that while shopping in France, unlike here, being cordial and polite is more important than buying the products. I have even encountered a French customs agent who was nonplussed because I asked him a question before saying the pro forma "Bonjour Monsieur!" to him!!

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Well, of course these vignobles want to sell their wine, but you hardly realize that.  Their hospitality is so sincere, and, if you choose not to buy anything, they treat you the same way as if you bought 12 cases.

They don't always want you to buy it then--they understand about customs laws. In fact, once when we purchased two bottles of wine at a small vineyard, we were told that if we liked it, to request it from our local wine shop (then in Chicago) rather than try to sneak a case through in our suitcase.

-Emily

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I can't imagine anyone trying to sneak a case of wine, especially still wine, through customs. The taxes are far too low to make it worthwhile. In fact the import duty on a case of wine is so low that it really isn't worth the time invovled in filling out the forms and most inspectors will wave it through knowing it's going to cost the government more money to process the forms than you will pay. On the other had, it's really hard to carry much wine if you have any luggage at all. A case is rather heavy to carry on and rather fragile to send with the luggage. We once returned from California with a case of wine split in two six bottle cartons. It was rather rare wine and the buyer and seller didn't want to go through the hassle and expense of making a special order through normal channels. The wine went in the over head bins and go hand carried all alond the way. French wines are often available at prices not much different than retail prices in France. Of course that's dependent on living and shopping in a state without state controlled prices and a lot of competition. It's also dependent on the wine and the channels of distribution in both places.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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They don't always want you to buy it then--they understand about customs laws.  In fact, once when we purchased two bottles of wine at a small vineyard, we were told that if we liked it, to request it from our local wine shop (then in Chicago) rather than try to sneak a case through in our suitcase.

-Emily

The only problem with this thought is that most of these vignobles don't sell their wine any further away from the Cave than their own little shop and the closest "Huit a Huit". You can buy a couple of bottles to bring home, or, use them on a pique-nique! The best part of this activity is the interaction with the vintners themselves, the tasting, the conversation, meeting their dogs, (they always have 1 or 2), etc.

And, as Bux has said, don't drink more than a sip of each if you are driving! (Great to be the passenger on these occasions!)

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Hi all,

I fly to the Loire Valley about 3 times a year ( in Sologne in fact, to pick mushrooms and for fishing), and these are some things I would recommend you sample or bring back ( take care to the importation laws if out of Europe though):

- Cheverny, Domaine Philippe TESSIER, 3 voie de la rue Colin 41700 Cheverny, France. 02 54 44 23 82.

( take care of the address as there is another TESSIER producing wine in the same area)

- sample the goat cheese, they are excellent: selles sur cher, valencay, puligny saint pierre ...

- if you are on sweets, pay a visit at the patisserie Jacky Chichery, in Valencay.

- if you fancy hunting, there is a lot of game.

- if you are tintinophie, Moulinsart is the Chateau de Cheverny without 2 side towers. :smile:

sorry for girolles lovers, this year, there are no girolles to be seen in the woods.

regards.

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-  sample the goat cheese, they are excellent: selles sur cher, valencay, puligny saint pierre ...

I have had chèvres from small producers in France that brought me to my knees. Any handpainted sign saying "chèvre" is worth following in my estimation. Frequently these appear along the backroads, but once, close to Chenonceau I followed a series of such signs on foot. They were deceptive about the distance and I almost returned before reaching my destination. I almost turned back again when I was "attacked" by an unfriendly dog as opened the gate. Fortunately I was quick to retreat and the farmer appeared in time to my my retreat look foolish. I was led to shack half dug out of the hill where I was grilled as to my preferrences in cheese. I left with one rather "sec" and one quite "moelleux." The dry one was excellent, but the ripe one was one of the cheese experiences of my life. And of course the "name" of each cheese was "chèvre," plain and simple.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I agree Bux.

My wife made me discover the "chevres" as she is from Romorantin.

I knew some goat cheese, but when I discovered Selles sur Cher, and some of its "states", I fell for it.

Selles sur Cher can come in almost 4 main forms: frais ( fresh), cremeux (creamy), sec ( dry ) or fort (extra dry).

Personally, cremeux is heaven. A strong flavor. creamy outside. dry inside.

You can buy easily frais and sec ( fresh, and dry ). For the others, it depends on the "affineurs" and sources.

If you are lucky, and leave a "frais" for some time, it can become creamy, then dry.

My recommendation for wine: a Touraine blan, or a fruity red, like Chinon.

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Isidore, the wine recommendations keep us on topic. :biggrin: My own preference is probably for a Sancerre or Pouilly Fume with chevres. Please don't say "Romorantin" as it makes me salivate for a meal there. I had a stewed hare with chocolate in Lion d'Or among other fine dishes and the memory haunts me a year later.

If you are lucky, and leave a "frais" for some time, it can become creamy, then dry.

This I think, uderlies the problem with cheese in America--this and pasturization. The American consumer seems to demand a consistent product, or at least the American retailer seems to thinking so. Many really consistent cheeses, especially the goat cheese, will never be great and many great cheeses will not be consistent, especially the goats. Even in France some of the cheeses we describe, are best found at the maker or the affineur and not at local shops. Newer EU regulations, I fear, are causing them to disappear from town markets as well.

For a while a few years ago, I was buying a fresh American goat cheese and allowing it to ripen naturally under different conditions. More fresh air, less fresh air, in the kitchen, in the refirgierator, etc. The results were haphazard, but often quite rewarding. A batch of cheeses with strange red molds led to my abandonning the project.

To expand on my earlier point, all cow and sheep cheeses with which I have famliarity, have a name. The cheesemonger may ask if I want a cow, sheep or goat cheese, but it's only the goat cheeses that are likely to have no other name. I mean that lots of goat cheeses are known as Valencay, Selles sur Chere or more generically as boucherons, but many, probably most, are just chevres no matter how different they are. When my daughter spent a term in Paris, she discovered a cheese shop on Mouffetard and determined to try a new chevre every day, or at least every visit. I don't think she was in Paris long enough. :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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On the other had, it's really hard to carry much wine if you have any luggage at all. A case is rather heavy to carry on and rather fragile to send with the luggage. We once returned from California with a case of wine split in two six bottle cartons. It was rather rare wine and the buyer and seller didn't want to go through the hassle and expense of making a special order through normal channels.

I actually once had a problem flying with wine from California--we were bring back 17 bottles, and the airline took issue. Eventually they let us carry it all on, but it wasn't much fun.

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Emily in London

http://www.august18th2007.com

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