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Ch Villandry gardens, Loire, France

Loire & Champagne 2013

We went to the Loire to taste the Chenin Blancs of Vouvray and Sauvignon Blancs, Rosé and Cabernet Franc of the wider Touraine region. To break up the longish drive we stopped off in Champagne (as one does).

Itinerary, Accommodation and Restaurants, and Winery Visit Notes

Itinerary

We caught the Thursday 8h20 channel tunnel train so as to be near Reims by 12h30.  First stop was the le Clerc on the road to Epernay for baguette, cold meats and cheese for a picnic on the Montagne de Reims looking out over the vineyards to Reims. We tasted until about 4.30pm when we left for Montargis where we were to stay the night.  The next day we tasted in the Touraine area before heading for Amboise where we spent 2 nights.  The Saturday we spent visiting chateaus and tasting in the Cinon and Vouvray areas.  After a final chateau visit on Sunday we headed back to Calais and the channel tunnel train.

Accommodation and Restaurants

Hotel de la Gloire

74 Avenue du General-de-Gaulle Montargis 45200 Tel 02 38 85 04 69
Unusual bottle-size decanter glass

Unusual bottle-size decanter glass

Gloire dessert

Gloire dessert

This one star Michelin restaurant with rooms is about halfway between Champagne and Tours in the Loire and so made a convenient over-night stay. The whole place is rather non-descript. We had to wait until dessert to get excited about the fixed menu (€44). The decanter in the shape of a glass was novel and held the bottle of Bredif Chinon Reserve Privee 2009 (€42). This was the highlight of the meal and quite extraordinary in my rather limited experience of Chinon wines. We visited Marc Bredif because of it. The room for €78 was fine. The highlight of the town must be the potted Rhododendrons which are larger than cars.

Montargis potted Rhododendrons

Montargis potted Rhododendrons

Manoir du Parc

8 avenue Leonard de Vinci Amboise 37400 Tel 02 47 30 13 96
description

Manoir du Parc

Our room, No 2, was definately a 'Room with a view' as one looked out accross Amboise to the castle in the background. We thoroughly recommend this B&B (€135).

Ch de Noizay

124 Promenade de Waulsort, Noizay 37210 Tel 02 47 52 11 01
description

Ch de Noizay

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Ch de Noizay set menu dish

We had made a mess of our booking at the one star Michelin restaurant in the town, Chateau de Pray, so we were delighted when the Michelin '3 knives and forks' restaurant in Ch de Noizay could accomodate us. We had the Menu "Promenade de Waulsort" 82. It was primarily a white wine menu so we had a Dm Huet Le Haut-Lieu 2011 Vouvray 67 and, to accompany the pigeon and cheeses, a half of Joguet Les Petites Roches 2009 24. All in all a delightful experience as one would expect in a Relais et Chateau hotel.

Winery Visit Notes


Champagne

Jean-Paul Deville

13, Rue Carnot, Verzy, 51380; T 03 26 97 93 50
We have not had much luck finding grower-makers in this town so were please to read about Deville in a LinkedIn discussion about where to visit in Champagne. We tasted their Pinot Noir dominated Carte Noir (€14); it was fuity and soft but a touch too sweet for our taste. The Carte D'Or had mare chardonnay which meant that we preferred it (€14.40 or €8.60 for a half bottle of champagne). We also liked their Sélection which we found to be yeasty and complex (€15.50). We bought the Carte D'Or and the Sélection.

H Billiot

1, Place de la Fonataine, Ambonnay, 51150; T 03 26 57 00 www.champagnebilliot.fr
H Billiot cellar door

H Billiot cellar door

We first visited Billiot in 2012 and so enjoyed the champagnes that we had bought then that we had to visit again.  We tasted the Tradition (€16.90) and Reserve (€17.90) that were two thirds Pinot Noir and one third Chardonnay; the difference being the time spent on the lees in the bottle.  We found the Reserve to be more to our taste because the Tradition tasted sweeter despite having less dosage (9gm vs 11gm).  We bought the Reserve.  The Tradition came in half bottles at (€9.30).

Marguet Pere & Fils

1 Place Barancourt; Ambonnay; T 03 26 53 78 61
Marguet entrance

Marguet entrance

Marguet have been a favourite of ours over the years. This time we tasted the Cuvée (€19.50) that was complex and fruity but in common with all the other Pinot-dominated champagnes that we had tasted so far we found it a touch sweet.  The Cuvée Réserve (€21.00) was definitely to our taste.   The Vintage 2006 Grand Cru we were told was 100% Chardonnay which struck us as very strange for an area in Champagne that specialises in red grapes (€23.50).  This was not for us.  We bought the Cuvée Réserve. 

H Goutorbe

9 bis, rue Jeanson; Aÿ, 51160; T 03 26 55 21 70 www.champagne-henri-goutorbe.com

H Goutorbe cellar door

Having tasted the range here and bought before we focused on their ‘everyday’ champagnes, the Tradition Brut (€15.15) and the Prestige Brut Premier Cru (€16.90).  They were both two thirds Pinot Noir and one third Chardonnay; the difference being the vineyards from whence the grapes came.  Both were available in half bottles, €8.90 and €9.75 respectively.  The Tradition was a good, basic champagne without too much acidity.  The Prestige had finer bubbles and more complexity.  We liked and bought both. We also tasted their 2005 Grand Cru vintage (€19.45) that happened to be open.  We loved this and so bought it as well.


Loire

Henry Marionnet

Soings 41230; T 02 54 98 70 73 www.henry-marionnet.com
Marionnet tasting room

Marionnet tasting room

The winery was hosting a lunch for the wine press when we arrived so they asked if we could just have a quick tasting. We focused on the two wines that they also produced in half bottles - their Touraine Sauvignon and Gamay (€5.75 and €5.95 respectively). The Sauvignon was not have the cut-grass, capsicum style but rather the flowery style often found in Chilean Sauvignons. The Gamay was unoaked as is typical of the region. They were both well made for what they were. We bought both to set up a taste-off with other wines that we hoped to find during our visit.

Dm Jean-Marie Penet

Oisly, 41700, Tel 02 54 79 52 65  www.domaine-penet.com
Chateau de la Presle tasting room

Chateau de la Presle tasting room

We were recommended to visit Chateu de la Presle for their Rosé and we though it was pretty good. We also liked their Sauvignon Blanc and so bought both at €5.20. Unfortunately they did not bottle in halves. 

Dm Guy Allion

15 Rue du Haut Perron, 41140 Thésée, Tel 02 54 71 48 01 www.guyallion.com
Domaine Haut Peron

Domaine Haut Peron

Domaine Guy Allion supply our 'Everyday' Loire Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé half bottles of wine so we went to taste their new vintage and well up to their previous high standards it was too. So we will continue with them as our supplier of these wines - click here for these wines - Sauvignon Blanc   Rosé

Chateau de La Grille

Route de Huismes, Chinon, Tel 02 47 93 01 95 www.chateau-de-la-grille.com
Chateau de la Grille tasting room

Chateau de la Grille tasting room

We were recommended to visit Chateu de la Presle for their Rosé and we though it was pretty good. We also liked their Sauvignon Blanc and so bought both at €5.20. Unfortunately they did not bottle in halves. 

Dm Marc Bredif

87 Quai de la Loire, 37210 Trochecorbon-Vouvray, Tel 02 47 52 50 07 website
Bredif tasting room on banks of flooded Loire

Bredif tasting room on banks of flooded Loire

We came primarily to taste their Vouvray and Chinon that we had for dinner a few nights before.  They convinced us to taste a wider range starting with their sparkling Vouvray, Bedif Brut (€9.10 or €5.10 for a half bottle of sparkling wine).   This was a revelation as previous encounters with sparkling wines from the region has left us underwhelmed.  We tried their dry Vouvray Vigne Blanche 2010 (€10.60 or €5.90 for a half bottle) and the off dry (Sec Tendre) Vouvray Classic 2011 (€9.10 or €5.10 for a half bottle).  Both were good with the Classic, as its name indicates, being the more typical Vouvray.  We then tried a range of reds moving from light to full bodied - Samur Champigny Vieilles Vignes 2009 (€12.20), St Nicolas de Bourgueil 2011 (€9.80 or €5.50 for a half bottle), Chinon 2011 (€8.80 or €5.00 for a half bottle of wine) and the Reserve Privee Chinon 2009 (€18.10).  We definitely preferred the Reserve with its oak treatment; the Chinon was also good basic stuff.  we finished off the tasting with their Vouvray Moelleux Nectar 2005 which was a late harvest - nectar pretty described it.  We bought the Brut, the Classic, the Chinon and the Reserve.