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.