Ken came out of the house to welcome us as soon as he heard the car pulling up the road. He was followed by a frolicking Callie – the collie. I apologized for being late and explained that we had had a very busy day, visiting Loches, Nouans-les-Fontaines and the nearby goat’s farm.
Walt was waiting for us on the deck, with a bottle of sparkling rosé. Ken brought out an excellent savoury cake which he had made himself. It was nice sitting out there with them, sipping the chilled rosé, nibbling the cake and catching up on the latest news. They also invited us up to the attic to ‘inspect’ the progress on the building work that was being done.
At half past six Ken, B., J.L. and I set out to visit the winery of Jean-Noël Guérrier a bit further down the road. We really had a great time tasting six different wines in Jean-Noël’s cavern-like wine cellar. Jean-Noël and his wife Chantal are lovely people and they immediately make you feel welcome. And they are very generous too when it comes to filling up your tasting glass … Compared to the large wineries, where you hardly get enough wine to wet your lips, Jean-No (that’s how this congenial ‘vigneron’ refers to himself) fills up your glass to the rim!
From left to right: B., Ken, Chantal, Jean-Noël and Jean-L.
We started with a nice white Sauvignon from one of the large metal cisterns that are located in the back of the cellar. Next came a rosé, made from the typical and rare Pineau d’Aunis grape. Then it was time to taste the reds … last year’s and this year’s. At this point, Jean-No disappeared to return with two bottles of his secret stock. One contained an excellent red and the other an amazing white Chenin.
On the left, a so-called 'fillette', a 50 cl bottle,
containing an excellent 'Chenin'.
containing an excellent 'Chenin'.
There were a lot of laughs and banter between Jean-No and J.L. who – after three glasses of wine - considered themselves as ‘blood brothers’ as they share the same first part of their names. After the tasting, it was time to do business. Ken had brought two plastic containers which he had filled up with white and rosé wine, J.L. had his two smaller containers filled with white and red wine and I bought 24 bottles of red. We stacked everything in the boot of car, said goodbye to Jean-No and Chantal and drove back to the house where Walt was waiting for us.
By then it was almost half past eight and time to go the restaurant ‘le Crépiot’ where Ken – at my request – had booked a table. During dinner Walt told us that he had spent most of the time that we were out looking for Bertie, the black cat. He had finally found him locked in at the neighbours’ house. Luckily the neighbours had entrusted him with the key, so that he could go in and ‘free’ the cat. As he had been in a hurry, he hadn’t had the time to check whether Bertie hadn’t left any ‘presents’ … So he was determined to go back the next day to have a thorough look around the house (the owners are only there on weekends) and remove any unwanted traces of the cat’s passage.
We left the restaurant some time after 11 p.m. It was a nice and warm night and Walt suggested we’d go for a walk around Saint-Aignan. Although we were tempted to stay a little longer and enjoy the company of our friends, we declined as we still had a 45 minutes drive ahead, Vouvray being at approximately 60 km from Saint-Aignan.
For the first time during this trip, we called in the help of our loyal friend ‘Mauricette’ – my GPS - to guide us to our destination. She did a splendid job and neatly ‘delivered’ us in Vouvray on the stroke of midnight. Seeing Ken and Walt again and spending some quality time with them was certainly the highlight of this long, interesting and enjoyable day. I only regret that we didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Bertie.