Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Back in Vouvray

Before setting out on this year’s Loire Valley trip I had sent Mats and Vera a list of possible ‘things to do’ asking them to rate the topics from 1 to 5, 1 being what they liked best and 5 meaning ‘no way!’ It didn’t mention any actual places but just ‘interests’ such as: castles (interior/exterior), gardens, outdoor markets, meeting people, museums, churches, big cities, shopping, wine tasting, picnics, restaurants, etc. …. When I received Mats’ mail with their answer, I knew that we would get along very well … it was so like what I had been enjoying during my previous visits. The only score that disappointed me was ‘shopping’, which they gave a poor 4. 

A topic that got a solid 1 though, was wine tasting! I was delighted and worried at the same time. From the past I knew that Mats was into sturdy South American wines. Even the most ‘heavy’ Loire Valley wines, like Chinon and Saint Nicolas de Bourgeuil, don’t even come close to the SA wines. I therefore decided that I would first introduce my friends to the white wines, which are quite unique.  

Wine tasting at Guertin's.

The dry Vouvray wine, made from Chenin grapes, is my absolute favourite when it comes to white wine. Staying in a Bed and Breakfast in the heart of the village of Vouvray, there wasn’t a better place to introduce my friends to the local golden nectar! Although I prefer to avoid the too ‘commercial - tourist trap' shops along the main road, there is one place in the so-called ‘Virage gourmand’ that is really good. It belongs to the Guertin family. We have tasted and bought wine there in the past, and the owners are really friendly, helpful, patient and not pushy at all. They will open which ever wine you want to taste and will never try to influence you. You want to buy some wine – even if it is just one bottle; OK no problem. You don’t want to buy? That’s fine too. And - most important - their Vouvray wine is really excellent! 

So, on our way back from Loches, I suggested we’d stop at Guertin’s and do some tasting. Although it was five minutes to closing time, we were greeted warmly by a young man who turned out to be one of the ‘Guertin boys’. He asked us which wines we were interested in. I was mainly interested in the dry white Chenin and a white bubbly, while Mats and Vera preferred the demi-sec rosé bubbly, a sweet white and a red. Vouvray doesn’t do red wines, but the Guertin’s also carry the local Touraine (cabernet) and the Chinon wines. Unlike the guy next-door – where we stopped a few days later – Guertin also offers you the possibility to taste these wines from other AOC’s.  

The tasting went surprisingly well with my friends appreciating the wines our host had selected. Vera turned out to be a real ‘connoisseur’. It was only later that I learned she had been taking a wine tasting course recently. We spent a pleasant half an hour, trying five different wines. We walked out with six bottles of rosé bubbly, twelve bottles of Touraine red (for Mats and Vera) and six bottles of dry Vouvray white (for me). 

In good spirits we drove up the hill to our lodgings to find the little bar by the church open. During my previous stays in Vouvray in 2008, 2009 and 2010 ‘Le Bouchon’ has been our mandatory stop for a late afternoon drink before returning to the B&B, which is 50 metres up to road. I didn’t want to break the habit, and suggested washing down the wine with a cool beer. It was warm enough to sit outside and Vera and I went in to get our drinks. Valerie the young landlady immediately recognized me from my previous visits and greeted us with genuine pleasure. 

Beer tasting at 'Le Bouchon'.

We sat outside, enjoying our ‘Licorne’ beer talking about everything we had done that day and discussing our plans for the next day. While we were sitting there, the ‘Guertin boy’ from the shop walked by on his way to his brother’s house. He waved to us and gave us big smile. People in the Loire Valley are so kind and friendly and really welcoming to the tourists who ‘invade’ their region. We would get more proof of that a few days later. The rest of the evening was spent having a picnic supper at our B&B before going to bed around 10.30 p.m. Too early? Maybe, but we had another big day ahead.


Budi Bali said...

Interesting experience...I want to taste it too

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Mmmmm sounds like fun. Wine tasting would have been top of my list as well, but I agree with Mats and Vera, shopping would have been probably number 5 for me :) Take care Diane

The Broad said...

I, too am very fond of Vouvray wines. In fact I like many of the Loire wines -- including Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. It all sounds so yummmmmmm!

Niall & Antoinette said...

one of our favourite things to do as well :-) and Vouvray is lovely!

Susan said...

I'm interested that you like the Guertin wine. I agree that the 'Guertin boy' is a lovely young chap, but I find their wine a little bit old fashioned. Vouvray can be a bit musty and not crisp enough for my tastes from a lot of the old style winemakers there. I would certainly recommend a tasting at Guertins over the experience you get at the Cave de Producteurs co-op just up the road.

GaynorB said...

Thw winw tasting would be to my liking and the beer tasting for Tim. Opposites attract?

GaynorB said...

P.S. For wine I prefer any kind of bubbles or white. Reds give me a headache.

Louise said...

Vouvray, Sancerre and a Rose from favourites! Thanks Martine for the first hand account of the beauty of the region...

ladybird said...

BB, Sorry I can't send you any!

Diane, Don't you enjoy walking into a craftsman's shop admiring and maybe buying some unique handmade artefact? I do!! I'll never spend a fortune but like to pick up the occasional handpainted scarf, ear rings or handwoven basket. ;)

Kathie, I bet you can get some nice wines in 'your' part of France. But the Loire wines are my favourites; always have been and always will be.

N&A, Vouvray, although very small, has so much to offer. The only thing that is missing is decent public transport into Amboise and/or Tours.

Susan, I agree with you that Guertin's wines are very traditional, but I wasn't sure whether Mats and Vera - considering their 'wine' past - would appreciate the more daring and fruity taste of some of the more adventure wines. I was therefore playing it safe. Also, some of the smaller producers don't always offer the CB option when it comes to paying, which can be a bit awkward. But please give me some tips for our next visit! They really are more than welcome.

Gaynor, We like both: the first for taste, the second for quenching our thirst :))

Louise, Sorry I couldn't put in a glass or two for you to taste ;)!