A short drive south and west of Paris takes you into the beautiful surroundings of the lush Loire Valley. Famed for its chateaux and also its wine, the Loire is home to Vouvray, Chinon, Samur and many others. This was my inaugural sourcing trip, and my destination was the western Loire and the home of Pierre-Antoine and his wife Agnès.
On arrival, the place was buzzing with activity as the hosts were preparing for a feast they put on for the local villagers each year. Pierre-Antoine, dogs in tow, greeted me from behind a large bag of baguettes which he promptly offloaded to show my to my room. He scurried away to finish the preparations and left me to settle in. Perhaps not surprisingly I found my way down to the cellar, following my nose and my thirst from the time on the road. They say that the morning is actually the best time to taste wine, as your taste buds have not been blasted with too much stimuli at that point… sure, twist my arm. So to work then, and tasting the range of Viaudière wines at 11:30. Nice, bubbly, dry, sweet, white, red. Just a little loosener before lunch never hurt anyone, and I needed to relax my vocal cords for the impeding onslaught of French.
Feeling calm and collected, I headed into the maceration room dominated by massive tanks on the perimeter and table upon table lined up beer-fest style, ready for the masses. I was surprised to find that I had been given an honorary place next to the fisherman who had caught the lunch for the day… enough to feed the 100 people who had come out for the day. The meal kicked off with a rose cremant, moved to a lovely Chenin Blanc and then a refreshingly elegant Chardonnay, and finishing with a copious amount of Coteaux du Layon with just enough sweetness. The rest is a little bit of a blur if I’m honest. Maybe it was the drink, which, by the way, was fantastic. Or maybe it was the buzz in the room, or the speeches, or the singing that would break out at seemingly random moments. I remember the slideshow. I definitely remember the slideshow.
Sourcing had started in style. Chateau de la Viaudière was proof that I hadn’t been wasting my time. This is why I got into the wine business in the first place. To discover fantastic wines, meet interesting people, experience a different side of life, and of course, try our best to pass on some of that magic to others.
What wine today? I say open a bottle of something from Chateau de la Viaudière.