Tracy and Tanya

Tracy and Tanya about to start a day of food and wine.

We had a busy start to the week on Monday morning by welcoming our two lovely Australian guests from London, Tracey and Tanya,  who had come along for our Wine Tour Immersion Day!  After a hearty ‘Petit Dejeuner’, Brian took them along to the Domaine de la Paleine, a Biodynamic producer in the Loire Valley owned by Marc et Laurent Vincent, located just around the corner from Le Clos des Guyons in Le Puy Notre Dame.  In fact, it was a perfect day for driving through the vineyards to the Domaine in our ‘open topped’ sportscar because the sun was shining and sizzling hot – yes absolutely, I think summer has finally arrived!

On arrival they were introduced to Patrick Nivelleau, the Domaine de la Paleine’s wizard winemaker, then they took time in the vines talking about the vineyard and understanding the  limestone and chalk ‘terroirs’ of the region and to explain the criteria for the vines of Saumur Puy Notre Dame which the winery has won several awards for and of which Marc Vincent is the President of the Association.  Then followed a visit inside the state of the art wine chai to learn more about the estate’s wine production methods after which they went down into the huge underground cellars extending for 2 kilometres  to fully appreciate the size of this Domaine.  The caves maintain a constant 12 degree temperature needed for the storage of approximately 100,00 bottles of AOC Saumur wine for storage and maturation.  Brian demonstrated how their sparkling wines are produced using the movement of the giro palletts. The adoption of  these machines improves the production of sparkling wines according to the method champenoise, being designed to carry out automatically the whole cycle of remuage. Remuage, or shaking, consist of a manual rotations of about 1/8 of turn of the bottles in order to make all the impurities fall slowly under the cork to be subsequently eliminated.

After a short lunchbreak in the village restaurant ‘Le Bouchon Ponot’, they enjoyed Brian’s wine tastings:- Various Saumur Blancs, Saumur Rouges including Saumur Puy Notre Dame, Saumur Rosés, Saumur Sparkling Brut  Blanc, Rosé and their new Sparkling Rouge, Cremant Sparkling Blanc, Rosé and the deliciously sumptious sweet Coteaux du Saumur.  In fact it was more than just a wine tasting as it covered several wine appellations.  Then at the end of the afternoon an interesting opportunity to compare alongside the Loire wines was a  bonus tasting,  because Monsieur Vincent has recently acquired a new vineyard of three hectares located at the foot of the hill south of Saint Emilion where some of the Grands Crus are located. And so the Chateau de Pasquette 2010, which is a very good expression of the Merlot cepage and a high quality wine offering a delightful bouquet with a lot of softness and delicacy,  was sampled.  This will lay down for a number of years and is already on the prestigious wine list of top restaurants in Paris.  Also tasted was the Pomerol, this having elegent notes of black cherries, cassis, blackberries and fine tannins, a silky wine with lovely rich, dense and complex aromatic notes in fact a real treat for taste buds!

When asked which had been their favourite wine of the day, it was unanimous that ‘Casta Diva’ a delicious, elegant, perfect expression of Chenin Blanc which uses only top quality French oak barrels to give an outstanding result, had been the most enjoyed.  They decided to take a few bottles home to share with friends as a memory of their visit to the fabulous Loire Valley wine region!

Casta Diva is also one of our favourites (amongst a very long list!).  It comes from a  limited production of 3000 bottles made from the best chenin grapes and only in years which will suit the style.  It  has a beautifully distinctive sparkling golden yellow colour and on the palate a dense, rich, extreme ripe long lasting taste of almond, quince and pear – yes a touch of vanilla too.  It has a great personality.

Thankyou Tanya and Tracey for your delightful company and we wish you both good luck in the future, particularly Tracey who told us that she was  indeed  a Tennis Umpire and going to be on Centre Court at Wimbledon this season!  Bravo – that’s a tough call!  We will be looking out for you now on the telly!

It was a pleasure to welcome you to our home and share a great day and Loire wines!



Wine Tours of the Loire Valley