The wine came from the ‘Domaine Château de Brissac-Quincé’. The village by the same name is situated at some 35 km northwest of Saumur. We liked the wine and decided to visit the ‘Domaine’ and the 15th century castle it belonged to.
When we left the grotto restaurant, the sky was slightly overcast and you could feel and smell that there was thunder in the air. By the time we reached Brissac-Quincé some 45 minutes later, the first raindrops had started to fall. The castle was easy to find. After leaving the car in a nearby public parking lot, we walked over to the Château. We were stopped at the gate by the caretaker, who asked us to wait by the gatehouse where a tour guide would pick us up presently. The guide appeared some 15 minutes later.
In the meantime other ‘tourists’ had turned up. We started chatting with a French couple who were touring the Loire Valley in their mobile home. They told us about all the lovely places they had seen. They also gave us some information, which proved to be very useful later in 1999 during our first real stay in the region.
The visit started at the bottom of the impressive staircase in the main entrance hall of the castle, and ended … in the wine cellar! I’m not going to describe the whole tour here, as the Château’s website does a far better job than I could ever do. The Château has been in the same family since it was built. The present generation of Ducs de Brissac-Quincé has turned part of the main building into a luxury B&B, which wasn’t the case when we visited.
The surprising and unusual part of the tour was that we got to see some of the family’s private living quarters. We felt slightly uncomfortable when we were shown into a bedroom that was obviously being used every night by one of the Duke’s siblings. On the bedside table, next to the regal looking four poster bed, sat half a bottle of Evian mineral water and a crystal drinking glass! The Evian bottle looked completely out of place in the sumptuous environment.
In the wine cellar we got to taste some of the Château’s wines. It goes without saying that we bought some bottles to take home with us. You’ll recognize Anjou wines by the crest of the region molded into the glass bottle.
When we left the Château, it was raining cats and dogs. In the distance we could hear the thunder rolling . Driving north, back to Loué and the safety of our hotel, the thunderstorm seemed to follow us. Traffic conditions were extremely difficult and we saw several car accidents on the way. In spite of the somewhat sinister and stressful ending of an otherwise perfect day, I felt that this region was beginning to grow on me!