Beaujolais Nouveau night in Le Puy Notre Dame

Beaujolais Nouveau night in Le Puy Notre Dame

One of the events on the French cultural calendar which is never missed is held on the third Thursday of  November when the whole of France organises events to mark the opening of the Beaujolais Nouveau (the first wine of 2013’s Beajolais Harvest)!  It’s still quite a big thing probably because it’s just another reason to party.  Either special lunches or dinners are organised giving everyone a chance to celebrate wherever you live!  Officially bottles are launched and uncorked at midnight in  Beaujeu,  the ancient capital of the Beaujolais, but here we are always a little ahead!

And so in the spirit of the wine village of Le Puy Notre Dame (never known to miss out on such things) the Beaujolais Nouveau Soirée was held in ‘Le Bouchon Ponot’ Restaurant as per usual.  Over the last few years it’s become a bit of a tradition and is now always full of locals who, given that we all know each other, can quarantee a lively evening.  We had been eagerly looking forward to it all week with Chef, Jean Yves, waiting to surprise us on the night with his specially prepared menu!

This year Jean-Yves had chosen a Beaujolais -Village Nouveau- this is from vineyards that are judged to produce a richer, riper grape and on a constant basis – usually costs a bit more for its better quality.  Frankly I forget the name of the producer – by 02:30 I was having problems remembering my own name!  The wine was well liked, with glasses being poured, swirled, sniffed, views exchanged by all –  it was fruity, sturdy, young and enjoyable with a great nose of cerise (cherries) and a little pepper. There is a great deal of snobbery about Beajolais Nouveau, much of it misplaced.  It is what it is, a frothing torrent of vibrant, scented, young purple wine which floods out of the hills of Beaujolais to the delight of everyone who is a true wine lover.  The population of Lyon rioted in the streets in 1788, the year before the French Revolution but, it was nothing to do with profound questions of liberty, equality and fraternity.  It was because the Beaujolais had failed to arrive!

We got to the restaurant around 19:30 and spent the next hour passing around never ending platters loaded with delicious canapés!  It was hectic and noisy but there you go it was party night after all!!  Even those few diners who were not partaking of the special meal were treated to a glass or two of Nouveau.

As we sat down at the table – we were presented with an awsome plate of Cote de Beauf!  Rare for me, ruined (ie. well done) for Sheila.  It was gorgeous and there was an awful lot of it.  Even I couldn’t manage a second serving.  Next came fromage and after that the dessert, whilst the wine kept flowing until the early hours.  Freddo, the husband of Sonia in the bar, got back home at 04:00 as a disgruntled Sonia told me the next day.   We were quite civilised making it back about an hour earlier and that was including a trip to a friends house in the early hours.

 Thanks for a lovely evening Jean-Yves!

Raise your glasses wine lovers and enjoy!

bon courage


Gites, wine tours in the Loire Valley



Vineyards in le Puy Notre Dame in Autumn.

Long and winding road through the vineyards of Le Puy Notre Dame in Autumn.


One of my favourite Le Puy Notre Dame ‘Autumn’ photographs showing a panoramic view of beautiful golden vines just before the leaves start to fall  and with the glorious Collegiale in the background standing on the highest point of the hill. What a beautiful vista!  There”s a couple more photos below which I took at the same time.

In October we offer special Autumn Breaks for our weekly guests at Le Clos des Guyons which includes an evening meal on arrival, and so were delighted to welcome Jacquie and Tony, and already living in France for some time in the Morbihan region.  It was not their first visit to the beautiful Loire, but this time they wanted to find out more about its wines and to celebrate Tony’s birthday.  It is so nice for us to welcome guests from other parts of France, giving us a chance to find out more about each other’s particular region, and what inspired their choice. For ourselves we have always loved the Loire but apart from the fabulous countryside, impressive chateaux, culture, friendly people, cuisine, weather,relaxed way of life known as the ‘douceur angevine’… and the wine! once you have made the move across the channel another advantage is that it gives you the opportunity to travel galore not only around ‘la belle’ France but over the borders too. The decision to move is the biggest decision ever and life isn’t always easy but it isn’t without its rewards!

Jaqui and Tony from Brittany

Jacquie and Tony from Brittany

We enjoyed a wonderful fun birthday meal together in our dining room, had lots of courses, selection of regional cheeses with walnuts from the garden, but then afterwards came the ‘Tarte de Vigneron’ a Le Puy Notre Dame speciality made by our local village Boulangerer. This  delicious ‘Tarte’ has a crunchy caramel base, decorated with lots of delicately sliced and decorated apples, covered in ‘red wine’ jam and a final dusting of icing sugar.  Very yummy! This was alongside a number of happy hours of wine tasting!!

For our aperitif we had a Cuvée Flamme from Gratien and Meyer sparkling wine house in Saumur, before moving on to a Coteaux du Layon from Domaine du Petit Clocher in Clere sur Layon.  Afterwards we chose a couple of interesting bottles which I have photographed to share with you! :-

Domaine Filliatreau, one of our favourite winemakers, is a prestigious 50 hectare vineyard estate nr Saumur in the Saumur Champigny appellation owned by Paul and Frederik Filliatreau,

2010 Domaine Filliatreau Saumur Champigny Vieilles Vignes

2010 Domaine Filliatreau Saumur Champigny Vieilles Vignes

This particular wine is at the high end from Fillieatreau. The first Vieilles Vignes were born in 1978 and are on average 20 years old, planted at a density of 5,000 vines per hectare and a highly variable exposure because of land fragmentation. We decanted this wine really for our pleasure and immediately loved the deeb ruby red colour with a nose of red fruit but predominantly raspberry.It was a very rich and powerful wine, soft fruity and had a long finish. Yes balance, quality and length. Excellent!

2001 Chateau de Tigné Anjou Vieilles Vignes

2001 Chateau de Tigné Anjou Vieilles Vignes


Chateau de Tigné  is a 100 hectare vineyard owned by the famous French film star, Gerard Depardieu, since 1989 and lies in the countryside between Cholet and Saumur about forty minutes drive from here. The point of interest, as you can see from the picture, is this had been bottled for the restaurant La Grande Monarque, a four star hotel and michelin starred restaurant owned by Bertrand et Nathalie Jallerat in Chartres for their guests attending the 22nd Paulée des Vins de Loire held on the 08 March 2004. The Paulée  is an event held every year in Chartres.   On pouring this wine we saw a strong red colour, there was a deep fruity nose, a generous and creamy in the mouth  extended by ripe tannins.  We did not really expect this to be a great wine having tasted Depardieu’s wine off and on over many years and having been somewhat underwhelmed  but I have to say it was excellent with all the fruit of Cabernet Franc and lovely creamy oak with little sign of aging – and it was a good talking point!

Made for the restaurant La Grande Monarque

Made for the restaurant La Grande Monarque

Jacquie and Tony explored local towns, villages, chateaux, troglodyte caves, local markets, brocantes and some of the sparkling Saumur wine houses  in St-Hilaire St-Florent, including Ackerman, Saumur’s oldest sparkling wine producer (established 1811). Later in the week they had a great morning with Brian driving around the picturesqe vineyards of Saumur Puy Notre Dame, which culminated after lunch in his guided wine tour of the Domaine de la Paleine walking the vineyards and exploring the underground galeries where there are over 200,000 bottles of different appellations stored, before settling into a tutored tasting of their unique wines in a very chic tasting room! Of course this is always the best part of the afternoon when Brian encourages our guests to capture and understand the amazing variety of flavours of the wineries appellations. Afterwards …. er a few hours for sure (and it was a hard choice to make finally) they didn’t leave without taking a few bottles of favourites to drink during the week and to take home for Christmas and New Year.

Dear Brian and Sheila,

“We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Le Clos des Guyons. Many thanks to you both for making it MEMORABLE – gourmet food and wine to die for!  

We have gone away with greater knowledge into the caves of the Loire Valley and not come away emtpy handed!

A different and exciting birthday experience for Tony”.

Kind regards

Jacquie and Tony

……. thankyou for these kind comments. It was a pleasure to meet you both!

Santé! and in the spirit  of Breton  ‘Yech mad’!

Sheila and Brian

Why not visit our NEW website which gives comprehensive details of gite and wine holidays in our charming  self catering holiday accommodation “Le Chenin” and “Le Sauvignon” apartments in the stunning wine village of Le Puy Notre Dame. We have dates available for our Spring Breaks in March.

Oregan Visitors enjoying a little taste of France and the Le Puy Marché Gourmand!

Loire valley wine tours

Brian with Rod and Denise from ‘Oregan Travel Adventures’ in Eugene USA, sharing a meal in our dining room as part of their Loire Wine holiday at Le Clos des Guyons.


Mozzarella Salad

Mozzarella Salad

On the evening of Rod and Denise’s arrival we enjoyed an entrée of Tomatoe and Mozzarella Salad, followed by Pan Fried Trout with Beetroot in a Honey and Balsamic glaze on a bed of Ratte Potatoes and Broccoli, then a plate of local cheeses followed by fresh figs filled with creme fraiche and vanilla.  Of course all with our favourite wines!

During their stay they visited local chateaux and the Le Puy vineyards including a guided wine tour and tasting of the local wines!  Denise enjoyed cooking and treated us to her favourite Oregan recipe of apricot and cranberry scones.

Also The Marché Gourmand Fete was held at the weekend, one of many throughout the year in the village! There are always lots of delicious  local products to sample including various qualities of foie gras, pomme tapée to accompany, honey, delicious jam, chutney, cheese, sausage, pate and  bread of all shapes and sizes including a special one this year measuring one metre long made by our village boulangerer Franck, plus a mention of the wine tastings taking place of local producers.  The event was opened in the morning by the Maire, followed by a procession of the The Knights of Bellay, the famous Brotherhood of Montreuil Bellay (seen in the photograph).

Les Chevaliers du Bellay at a festival in Le Puy Notre Dame

Les Chevaliers du Bellay at a festival in Le Puy Notre Dame

The month of October is almost over but it is never a quiet month in the village especially if you are a vigneron! Primarily it’s the grape harvest and everyone is working very hard in the vineyards, with vendagers cutting endless bunches of grapes, the ‘hotters’ grappling with the weight of the grapes in their hods as they carry them over to the waiting tractors, vignerons preparing the wine chais for the vinification with many long hours to follow, but all with one thing in mind to make the best quality wine from their grapes.  The work is long and laborious but is done with passion.  Just to give you some idea of the size of the region in Nantais-Anjou-Saumur-Touraine there are 4,000 exploitations.  In Le Puy village there are just on 60 Vignerons.  It has not been an easy year for the 2013 vendage and is the second successive year where the Loire vignerons have been hit by the weather which had turned to rain during the latter days of picking.  In fact this year there will be no Coteaux again, our rare and justifiably famous sweet wine.

Gourmet Market in Le Puy Notre Dame

Gourmet Market in Le Puy Notre Dame

Rod and Denise enjoyed seeing the grape harvest at first hand and enjoying the atmosphere and smell of wine everywhere and took some of their favourite bottles with them on to the next part of their journey through France to visit friends in Nantes Atlantique.


Sheila and Brian