Aperitifs on Christmas Eve here at Le Clos des Guyons in the Loire Valley, France.
From our guests and neighbours at Le Clos des Guyons, Le Puy Notre Dame, in the heart of the Val de Loire, we are raising our glasses to wish all our lovely clients both old and new, friends and family far away, a “Joyeux Noel” and “Very Merry Christmas”!
The 300 year old traditional Loire fireplace made from the local “tuffeau” limestone. Totally inefficient of course but what a centre-piece!
Here we are in the photograph (Sheila is missing because she is taking it) with our neighbours and current guests from Kent and New Hampshire, USA, in our Salon in front of a roaring fire at the start of our Christmas Eve Reveillon, sharing conversation and aperitifs over a Magnum of the Domaine de la Paleine’s Saumur sparkling wine. It was such a perfect Christmassy evening before the feasting of our delicious six course meal paired with other amazing Loire wines.
We sincerely hope you too enjoy a lovely Christmastime and holiday wherever you are!
There are lots of things to do over the next week, Christmas markets everywhere to enjoy with all the local artisan production of gift ideas, foods and wines and Chateaux and castles to visit ALSO last but not least our Wine Tour around the Le Puy vineyards and Wine Tasting in the village.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!
Sheila and Brian
http://www.closdesguyons.com and http://www.facebook.com
I recently read a very interesting post about sweet wines from France on Jill Barth’s excellent blog. So I thought I’d do something on the superb but little known wine fom the Saumur vineyard – le Coteaux de Saumur. The reason that this superb wine is so little known is that it is incredibly rare with an appellation of only 12 hectares, (less than 30 acres). The total yield is around 40000 litres but, in reality, it never reaches this quantity and in many years none is made at all and in others just one or two winemakers may decide to do it. This is why I always refer to it as a “mythical” wine when we are tasting it on wine tours.
The cépage is 100% Chenin and the vines have to grown on “islands” within the greater Saumur appellation where the chalky limestone comes to the surface. It is no coincidence that most of the production is centred around Champigny and Le Puy Notre Dame both “lieu-dit”, (named places – sort of Grand Crus) of Saumur.
I would describe the wine as aristocratic, with the limestone giving it an elegance which is sometimes missing in the more alcoholic stickies of the Coteaux du Layon. In the glass you will find a rich golden colour, fine fruit with hints of waxy honey and a cornucopia of exotic fruit flavours particularly lychées. The one I know best and a serial award winner is from just round the corner here in Le Puy Notre Dame from the renowned Domaine de la Paleine. The 2006 developed a distinct nose of mandarins whilst the 2010 had it from the start. There is always a vibrant acidity which balances the luscious sweetness. Made by a selective “tri” with anything between three and five passes through the vineyard it is then normally put in oak barrels for at least a year. The intense sweetness and acidy mean that the wine is almost eternal, (I have actually drunk a wine from 1856 which was still perfect although of course the actual appellation name didn’t exist at that time, it wasn’t granted until 1966).
Here in the Loire, it has several uses; as an aperitif, as the classic accompaniment to foie-gras and, my particular favourite, alongside the soft, salty French blue cheeses like Roquefort and St. Agur etc, a taste made in heaven. Of course it is also used as a dessert wine but perhaps not as often as you would think.
Price wise it is very competitive when compared to a similar quality Sauternes primarily because our region still makes wine to drink and, as yet, wine isn’t really bought for the prestige of its label although I have detected a slow but pronounced upward movement as the quality of the wine attracts more and more aficionados. A half bottle would cost around €17 whilst a comparable Sauternes would cost immensely more.
So, if you can find a bottle grab it with both hands. If you can’t you’ll just have to visit the Royal Valley of France, le Val de Loire
Le Puy Notre Dame, France.
Millions of euros worth of Classic Cars forgotten in an old barn!!
Les Deux-Sèvres is our adjoining Departement, just a few minutes down the road. It is not particularly famous, very rural with a handful of large towns. However, it is very much favoured by ex-pats who enjoy living in the countryside and the reasonable property prices. Echiré is a village of around 3 200 on the edge of Niort, one of the largest towns in les Deux-Sévres. It is also the last place one would have expected to find …… ‘treasure’! Not, it is true, a cashe of medieval objects which you would perhaps expect to find in a country as historic as France, in fact something much more modern but extremely valuable nevertheless.
The Ferrari 250 California, owned for a time by Alain Delon and literally worth it’s weight in gold!.
Roger Baillon was a haulier and also an avid collector of old vehicles. He died in the early 2000’s and his collection, stored in a ramshackle barn, was simply forgotten about by his family and, when his son died recently, the inheritors of the estate asked for the collection to be valued. I imagine that both the family and the valuer have still not recovered from the shock of the said valuation.
In fact, the collection, covered in dust, straw, old newspapers and old rubbish revealed some of the most valuable cars in the world. To name just a few:-
A Ferrari 250 California owned by the French film-star Alain Delon. Designed by Pinifarina, only 52 were ever made. All of which have now disappeared. The car behind the rubbish is now valued at a stunning 9 to 12 million Euros. Alongside it was a 1948 A6G Gran SportTalbot Lago T26 formerly owned by King Farouk of Egypt. Nearby was a Maserati A6G Grand Sport Frua dating from 1956 and now one of only three in existence and, behind a stack of empty oil drums a Hispano Suiza H6B dating from the 1930’s.
In all the collection included up to 300 vehicles and, despite the efforts of les Deux-Sévres to keep the collection in the Departement, it now looks as if it will be auctioned in Paris on the 6th February in Paris. The total value is expected to be over 16 million Euros.
So, there you go, have a look in your old out-buildings, you never know. I’ve had a look in mine and I’ve found an old bucket and a load of empty wine bottles. No treasure for me then!
Gites in the Loire Valley
Loire Valley Wine Tours
A vineyard in the Loire side village of Montsoreau. How would you like to own something like this?
Imagine a beautiful warm evening, you are sitting on your terrace, sipping a glass of your own luscious wine as the sun sets behind your rolling vineyards. This scenario has long been a dream for many lovers of French wine and culture but how much will it cost? Let’s have a look.
We’ll leave aside the cost of tools and equipment which can vary enormously depending on a number of factors but is always a huge expenditure but we’ll concentrate here on what is clearly the biggest expense of all which is of course, the vineyard itself and the valuation of that depends on a multitude of factors including the appellation, the region and the position and orientation of the vineyards.
So, to give you an idea, here are the current average prices throughout France. Cheapest appellation vineyards are probably priced at around €10 000 per hectare, (an hectare is 2.47 acres), in regions like Gaillac in the south west or Valençay in the Loire, whilst a hectare of vineyard in the Nantais, (Muscadet) would come even cheaper at €8 000. At the other end of the scale are vineyards in Margaux which would come in at €1m per hectare and just next door in Paulliac you could expect to pay up to double that for the privilege of owning an hectare of vines, but then again the appellation is the home of three of the most expensive wines in the world:- the Chateaux Latour; Mouton Rothschild and Lafite Rothschild.
If you’re into Champagne be prepared to fork out €1m. In the middle range are Châteauneuf de Pape at €350 000 with €140 000 required to make a glass of grassy, fruity Sancerre and €95 000 for a sturdy Crozes-Hermitage from the Northern Rhone.
Here in the Western Loire it’s quite complicated not least because of the multitude and complexity of appellations. A hectare of Anjou or Anjou Village would probably set you back some €13 000 with another €3 000 required for vines in the Coteaux du Layon. The “lieu-dit” of Quarts du Chaume would cost €18 000 as would Savenierre near Angers. A Saumur hectare would be around €17 000 and here in the new appellation of Saumur Puy Notre Dame you would have to pay up to €36 000. In the better known and longer established appellation of Saumur-Champigny you would be looking at €56 000 on average.
So there you go, have a look down the back of the sofa and see what you can afford!
Loire Valley Wine Tours
Holiday Rentals in the Loire Valley