About our Loire Valley Gites and Wine Tours

The XVIIIth. Century entrance to our Loire Gites

The XVIII Century Entrance to our Loire Valley Gites in France

Highly Commended by our TRIPADVISOR guests, (rated 5/5).

 

We receive many emails from our blog readers asking what exactly we do  here in the Loire so we thought that we’d do this static post which explains just that.

The Lounge in le Sauvignon gite.

The Lounge in le Sauvignon gite.

Le Clos des Guyons is a former winemakers house in the village of Le Puy Notre Dame in the Loire Valley.  The village is designated by two french accolades:- Village de Charme and Petite Cité de Caractére. We arrived in the region in 2001 and purchased the property in 2003 on the retirement of the then winemaker, Robert Guyons. His wine, the Domaine des Guyons, still produces wine but the current winemaker, Franck Bimont, uses a larger wine chai on the other side of the village, although we still use our existing tanks for storage on occasions.

We have found that the property is perfect both for normal gite holiday rentals and for wine tours as not only are we perfectly placed to access the bulk of the chateaux and historical sights of this famous region, but we are in the middle of a mass of wine appellations and, since 2008, Le Puy Notre Dame now has its own appellation of Saumur-Puy Notre Dame.

Situated on a quiet road on the edge of the village we are adjacent to the vineyards but, at the same time, only a few minutes walk from the bakery, bar and the two excellent village restaurants:- Le Bouchon Ponot and Le Puy à Vins.

With over 13 years of experience living in the area we have developed a mass of information which is freely available to our guests, many of which return to see us year after year and we thank them enormously for their loyalty and trust!

Brian has worked for years in wine retailing in the UK and has a Wines and Spirit Education Trust Ltd Higher Diploma qualification and so his knowledge plus relationships with local winemakers makes a wine tour here interesting, unique and enjoyable. Not only is Le Puy Notre Dame the newest appellation in the Loire but it has over 50 winemakers each putting their own unique interpretation on the local wines.

The courtyard at our gites

The courtyard at our gites

We have two holiday rental properties, “Le Sauvignon” and “Le Chenin” the former for four or six people and the latter for two.  We opened for business after one full year of renovation and both gites are now fully equipped to the exacting standards laid down by the main French gite organisation, “Les Gîtes de France” who, incidentally carry out regular inspections which is very rare if not unique amongst gite rental companies.   At the same time we have tried to preserve the original ambiance as far as possible.

Access to Le Clos des Guyons and to our gites is through the huge XVIII Century gates which guard the property.  We are quite proud of the attractiveness of our courtyard and garden and try our best to make it one of the prettiest in the village. The garden itself is of the courtyard and contains a wooden terraced area and above ground swimming pool (heated mid May to September) great for a quick swim to add to our guests pleasure.  Behind that is a productive vegetable garden which allows us to share fresh salad, asparagus and other vegetables in season.

Of course this blog is primarily about our lives here in the Loire Valley, so the individual posts tend not to carry specific information either the wine tours or our gite holiday rentals.  To find details of availability, tariffs, accommodation details, ‘What do do whilst staying here’, etc. etc, you can go to our extensive website:- www.closdesguyons.com or, use the contact widget on the right hand sidebar to contact us for more information.

Talking about the Grape Varieties on one of our Loire Valley Wine Tours

Talking about the Grape Varieties and vineyards on one of our Loire Valley Wine Tours

à bientôt?

Sheila and Brian

Loire Gite Holiday Rentals and Wine Tours

6 rue du Moulins,

49260 Le Puy Notre Dame, France.

Doué la Fontaine

October in Anjou

There are times when the term la Douceur Angevine really does live up to it’s name. The term means the sweetness of life in Anjou and Saumur and throughout France the term is used to describe the region adding to the fame of its wine, history, culture and, of course, its chateaux. It doesn’t just mean its mild weather either, but the general laid back, relaxed attitude to life. The picture was taken on a Sunday morning from within the Bar le France, (as usual I have to say that it is “le France” and not as you would expect “la France” nobody really seems to be quite sure why)! The bar is also a licensed betting shop called a “PMU” and that is how it is normally referred to. For me It’s a meeting place for what a group of us call our “charity work” i.e., making sure that bars continue to survive in these hard economic times. It’s hard, selfless work but someone has to do it.  The temperature was around 28°C, not bad for late October and the stall that you can see in the background is selling shellfish from the region’s Atlantic seaboard.

à bientôt

Brian

Gites in the Loire Valley

Crémant de Loire

Cremant de Loire


Must apologise for the shake on the video. I couldn’t get rid of it no matter what software I used!

Crémant de Loire is a sparkling wine from the Loire as the names suggests.  Normally appellations this size can produce wine of some questionable quality but what makes Crémant so special is the individual rules within the appellation.  For example everything has to be cut by hand and then put in the containers which you can see on the video.  Because it is a Loire appellation it allows grapes which are grown throughout the Saumurois, Anjou and the Touraine including Burgundy like cépages of the Eastern Loire, (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay over to the melon of the Nantais (Muscadet). Here, on the limestone soils of Saumur the pre-dominant white grape is Chenin (Blanc) although most Crémants are a blend.  This particular one from La Domaine de la Paleine is normally 80% Chenin and 20% Charrdonnay.  The Saumurois is France’s second largest producer of sparkling wine after Champagne and a combination of soil types, know-how, (or savoir faire, I suppose I should say) plus the severity of the appellation rules can make a wine full of flavour with fine, elegant bubbles and up there with the best.  There is also a Rosé version normally made with Cabernet Franc or Pineau d’Aunis but La Paleine does a very interesting one using Pinot Noir with a distinct taste of the fruit and “compost” that we traditionally associate with Pinot.  

Bon dégustation

Brian

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Floral dispay on the day of the festival

HISTORY OF PILGRIMAGE AT THE COLLEGIALE IN LE PUY NOTRE DAME

This morning we have wall to wall sunshine and a beautiful blue sky.  The church bells are ringing loudly to remind us that it’s a special day in the vllage of Le Puy Notre Dame (translated ‘the hill of our lady’) dominated by its massive Collegiale and imposing spires and pinnacles, built in 1163 (the choir was finished in 1182 followed by the Nave in 1208, and the towers sometime between 1225-1250). Today is the annual pilgrimage where a celebration and hommage is taking place to the Saint Centure starting with mass this morning and then glass of wine and picnic in the Salle de Fete, finishing with prayers again in the afternoon.

The history to this is that Le Puy had become known as Puy-la-Montagne by 1793 and the hill of Puy as Mary’s Mountain. William 9th, Duke of Aquitaine, is reputed to have brought back a waistband of the Virgin Mary from the Crusades and deposited it in the church. His granddaughter Eleanor of Aquitaine founded a Collegiale church to honour the relic which, according to legend, facilitated pregnancies and favoured the birth of a son. Louis XI founded a chapter about 1480 and this became a site of pilgrimage the Sunday after 8 September. The relic (Holy belt) can still be viewed here – it’s placed in a belt of fine silk and measures 1,60 m x 4 cm.  On the choir stalls at the back of the photo is the carving which became the emblem of Le Puy and it’s winemakers.

Le Puy Notre Dame became a stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostelle and 17th century hostelries used by the pilgrims still exist showing clearly the scallop shell, a symbol of the route and badge of the hostelries.

And so there it is.

Why not come and pay a visit to our beautiful Collegiale and appreciate its rich history.  You won’t be disappointed.

Voila!

Sheila

http://www.closdesguyons.com

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ENJOYING A DEGUSTATION AT THE ‘FESTIVINI’ WINE MARKET IN SAUMUR!

Wine tasting at Festivini

Brian about to taste a glass of 2012 Coteaux du Layon

Enjoying a relaxing degustation at the ‘Festivini’ Festival Wine Market with old friend and neighbour, Hubert Deffois from Chateau de Brossay, a 45 hectare Domaine in Clere sur Layon, our old village where we lived for three happy years before arriving in Le Puy Notre Dame.  It’s situated on the high Layon south of Anjou and west of the Saumurois.

This Domaine has been in the family for four generations and is currently operated by Hubert and Raymond Deffois and family, producers of exquisite Coteaux du Layons alongside L’Anjou Blanc, Rosé de Loire, Cabernet d’Anjou, Anjou Rouge, Anjou Village, Crémant de Loire et Saumur Brut Rosé and Brut Rouge.

It’s well worth a visit and you are guaranteed a very warm welcome!

The vendage has now started and the sunny mild weather we are currently enjoying is very much welcomed.  Provided we have no unforeseen disasters it looks like 2014 will be an excellent vintage.  The only cloud on the horizon (literally) was an horrendous thunderstorm and cloudburst together with giant hailstones which hit us last Friday.  Luckily it was very isolated and does not appear to have caused any damage in the vineyards.  When I say isolated, here at Le Clos des Guyons it was rain and hailstones bouncing of the roofs, gutters couldn’t cope and one of our gite guests drove his car into one of our outbuildings because it was being damaged by the hail.  Meanwhile, about 300m. away Brian was sitting outside the bar with a group of friends in full, warm sunshine.

Here’s to a good vintage year for the vignerons!

Brian

Loire Valley Wine Tours

‘FESTIVINI’ WINE MARKET TODAY IN SAUMUR


Today is the Wine Market in Place de la Republique Saumur, alongside the Loire. and what a wonderful afternoon with clear blue skies and temperatures in the thirties it was a lively afternoon!  The market is a part of the “Festivini” celebrations which is a two week long celebration of the wines of Anjou and Saumur.  It has many tastings throughout the region, gourmet meals with carefully chosen wine in such rarified atmospheres as the Royal Abbey at Fontenvraud and walks, bike rides, horse treks and carriage rides through several vineyards.  We arrived just after 2:00pm having eaten at the Hotel  le Bussy in nearby Montsoreau. This is a great place for Sunday Lunch havig superb views, not just of the Loire but also of the Château.

Restaurant on the Loire

Part of the enchanting terrace of the Hôtel le Bussy at Monsoreau

The menu is simple and quite restricted but the food is superbly well cooked and the “frites” are to die for.

The market was just starting to fill up again after the two hour lunch break and it was an ideal oppurtunity to get round easily and meet some of our old friends like Hubert Deffois from Château de Brossay in our first village of Cléré sur Layon.  A superb producer of exquisite Coteaux du Layons.  As usual our current village was represented by the Domaine de la Paleine and the Domaine d’Enchentoir whilst all the big sparkling houses of Saumur like Akerman, Gratien-Meyer and Langois Chateau were well represented.

Brian

A Loire Valley Vineyard

IN THE LOIRE VINEYARDS – TALKING WINE IN LE PUY NOTRE DAME!

A recent photo of our guests out in the vineyard, giving their holiday an added value in terms of French Loire Valley wine culture – what a nice idea!

They went with Brian to enjoy the magnificent views around Le Puy Notre Dame and no better place for an introduction than in the local vineyards. The grapes are now well formed on the vines. It was an enlightening visit learning how the vigneron grows and manages his vines whilst looking at the stony soils that give the wines their flavours and the main grape varieties on some of the patches of vines on the slopes around Le Puy Notre Dame.

Amongst several wineries visited was our old favourite the Domaine de la Paleine, a 32 hectaire biodynamic award winning winery around the corner from our home and gites at Le Clos des Guyons  After an extensive visit around their wine chais explaining the processes involved and then walking into the vast underground galleries of caves finishing in the important bottling room, Brian explained the Domaine’s many appellations and conducted a tutored wine tasting for everyone from a selection of their wines and vintages including naturally our village’s own wine appellation, Saumur Puy Notre Dame!

Our guests left with plenty of wine knowledge, wine vocabulary and a few cases for the boot of the car  – a lovely talking point for the family back home and memory of a good holiday!

Santé and bon dégustation!

Sheila

Loire Valley Wine Tours

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Literary Festival at St. Clémentin

Chrys Salt

Chrys is appearing at the St. Clémentin Bi-Lingual Festival in the Salle des fétes, Friday August 29th, 10.30-11.15

This Week we have had the pleasure of Chrys Salt staying with us in one of our gites with her partner Richard.

Chrys is a well known author, poet and playwright  and directs in the theatre.  Her work has appeared in many anthologies and has been performed at the BBC, across the UK and in the USA, Canada, France, Germany and Finland.  It has been translated into French, Arabic and is currently being translated into Hebrew.

Her poem “Weaver of Grass” was selected as one of the best Scottish poems of 2012.  Her anthology of the same title was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award and she has been awarded a bursary by “Creative Scotland”  to finish her next collection.  This year she has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

We wish Chrys a very successful event on Friday.

Sheila and Brian

http://www.closdesguyons.com