In February, we accepted our annual invitation to the 2014 Salon des Vins, one of France’s largest Trade Wine Fairs held at the Parc des Exhibitions d’ Angers and the largest Regional Wine Fair in France. This event is when the entire, enormous Loire Valley Wine region comes together with 550 Exhibitors in an exhibition area of 15,000 square metres, offering an ever increasing range of reds, rosés, whites, dry, sweet, still and sparklings. The map above which myself and friend Bob are discussing, gives an idea of the multitude of appellations which cover the length of the Loire. This year there were between 8,500 and 9,000 visitors, being a slight increase on last year which contradicts those who said that numbers were down.
There are, however, valid points of view particularly about the cost for wine makers being 1 200€ for a shared stall and 2 000€ for an independent one. And don’t forget that they already pay large annual subscriptions to “Inter-Loire” who organise the show. One idea put to me whilst I was tasting the medal winners was why didn’t the organizers think about lifting the ‘professionals only’ restriction on the last day, opening it up to the public with a small admission fee and the potential for wine makers to extend their list of clients. Good question! Anyway these are questions for the future and we shall continue to enjoy the show no matter what the format.
We love meeting both well known local producers and those from further afield always being eager to taste their new offerings and find new ‘hidden gems’ and new producers – and we do our best but always run out of time as the day is so busy!
And so we joined the swarm of visitors in the entrance hall and ventured into the designated tasting areas to quickly familiarise ourselves with the tables of wines and afterwards we ventured into the nearside area for the lucky medal winners.
Amongst the fine display of wines we were particularly happy to see the new appellation of Saumur Le Puy Notre Dame Rouge from Domaine de l’Enchantoir had received a gold medal for their 2011. Bravo to Pierre et Bridgitt Van Den Boom who are receiving more and more awards each year but this one was well deserved, being a delicious example of Saumur Puy Notre Dame, tasting of rich fresh blackcurrants with a savoury twist. Equally good for this appellation was the offering from Marc Vincent at la Paleine, (rich, velvety and spicy), and Bruno Albert at the Domaine de Vieux Pressoir (2012 – red fruits, cherries and spices).
Another familiar name, ROBERT ET MARCEL, previously the Caves des Vignerons de Saumur, had received an array of awards and we really enjoyed tasting their 2011 Blanc, which had a distinct taste of lychees and pineapples with a citrus fruit finish and a long length. Definitely a good start for them under their new brand name!
We want to mention that we met Anthony and his wife Stephanie from the Famille HUET being now the fifth generation of winemakers from Domaine de Montfort situated on Route de Brossay, in the beautiful small village of Montfort, just a five minute drive from Le Puy Notre Dame. Domaine de Montfort is a family Domaine of 15 hectares of vines. They enjoyed sharing their wines with us including their Bronze Medal winner, Saumur 2013 Blanc, a dry white wine, having a golden reflection and tasting lively with citrus, mineral aromas and fruity. Very refreshingly zingy – perfect for the hot summer evenings to come! The majority of this vineyard we learned is on flints and limestone not like the rest of the Saumur appellation and therefore the flint gives a different taste and aroma. They have lots of passion for their winemaking and we want to pay them a visit soon perhaps with one of our wine tour guests.
We visited the Domaine des Guyons stand and chatted away to Franck Bimont, who was eager to share his latest cuvées.
This Domaine is always a treasure trove of new wines so it was not to be missed!
Some other gems were:-
La Domaine du Petit Clocher from Cléré sur Layon produced the most superb Crémant de Loire, my favourite sparkler in the show:- 100% Chardonnay, buttery, full of toast and enlivened by a zing of acidity. Congratulations to Jean-Noel and his team.
One of my favourite reds was a quirky rouge from Sancerre:- Mattias and Emilé Roblin have produced a light 2012 which was brimming over with Pinot Noir fruit. Perfect for summer drinking.
The most stunning white I tasted was a 2009 Savennieres from the Clos de Closel, cuvée Clos de Papillon. This wine was not only majestic but it restored my faith in Savennieres which had been rapidly eroding:- Rich caramelly nose, lots of white fruit with an overlay of citron. Dry, mouth filling and complex. A great success.
By the way, the date for next year’s edition is already organised for the 2nd – 4th February 2015 and is in our diary!
A big bravo to all the organisers of this huge event despite its difficulties of clashing with other important wine events on these dates. Bizarre they can’t co-ordinate it better especially as the cost to hire the stands at these fairs is really astronomical and so important for the winemakers to capitalise effectively on their expenditure and effort.
We offer self catering holidays at Le Clos des Guyons. Our accommodation has been awarded ‘Three Stars’ with the ‘Gites de France’ network and you can stay in either ‘Le Sauvignon’ for 4-6 persons and ‘Le Chenin’ for 2-3 persons. An ideal place to recharge your batteries and enjoy a half day or full day wine tour and tasting during your stay. See our new website for details:- http://www.closdesguyons.com