This April I escaped to the Loire Valley in France. An area well known for its Chateaux and wine. It's a beautiful area, I’ve spent many a holiday in the Loire Valley and a great amount of my childhood there.
The winters are mild usually, although this winter is was surprisingly cold and the Loire froze with huge blocks of ice travelling down stream. This has rarely been seen by locals. In April the weather is usually very warm and sunny and we certainly were blessed with sunshine.
Mr M and I enjoy taking the car and heading towards an area of wine and taking our pick of the local wineries, and having a taste. If you've not experience this, I suggest you have a try when next in France.
Don't be shy, most wineries are open 7 days a week and welcome visitors. They usually allow you to taste around four different wines and will ask you what you are interested in. This can be Red, white, Rose or perhaps you know you like a wine with a deep flavour, or you are looking for something to drink immediately. Your choice. Don't be shy to say to the merchant what you don't like so they can help you taste something you will like.
The Loire is rich in diverse soils and has an amazing amount of vineyards offering various wines with a difference in grape, soil and technical process. Small villages have flourished into pivotal wine regions as wine makers make the most of the land.
We travelled through Bourgeuil, opposite Chinon. This is a small wine region and is situated between the Loire River and a forest. The landscape slopes down towards the river and offers three different types of soils; sandy river banks, gravelly soil and then a limestone rich soil near the forest.
The limestone-rich soil produces a strong, rich dusky red-wine, whereas the grapes grown nearer the river will produce a lighter, floral tasting wine. Usually the floral lighter wines should be drunk within the first 2-5 years whereas the richer wines can be kept from 5-15 years. This region is better known for its red wines, but also offers some Rose and a little white wine.
If you prefer white wine I suggest taking a different route, but this was certainly a wonderful picturesque area for reds!
Interestingly, there is a small area next to Bourgeuil, called Saint Nicholas de Bourgeuil. This tiny area is based on the middle section of the Bourgeuil soil so produces light fruity wines with a little kick and can be kept for several years.
In any case, we spent the afternoon in Bourgeuil and also went to a favourite winery in Chinon and another further in Champigny. These areas are well know for their red wines but they offer a little more white too.
On average a bottle of wine may cost between four and 7 euros. Bargain!
We went a little crazy and as we packed the car on our last day we realised there was little room left for legs, and suitcases! We took 17 cases of wine, plus an additional 5 litre bag in box of wine...we must have been over the limit, but pleased customs didn't catch us!
We have enough wine to last us a few weeks, so you know what I'm doing! Although it's not promising for the Marie V cushions, better not drink and sew!