This week, I’m in the historic-but-tourist-friendly French wine region of the Loire, on a press trip attending the the 2012 Salon des Vines de Loire. This annual vinous showcase in Angers features about as many Loire wines as the Loire river is measured in miles (over 600). So, I’m expecting to spit… a lot (and not just at the stuff the French people say to me).
The travel could mean some slightly interrupted service here on 1WD, most likely the week after I return while I’m catching up on the three-to-four thousand things to which I will need to attend when I get back (such as hitting the treadmill overtime after indulging in what the French consider a relatively normal volume of dietary fats). I’m hitting Napa very soon after my return from France (for a ton of producer visits and my annual coverage of the madness that is Premiere Napa Valley), and the space in between those trips will largely be occupied by, I hope, sleeping. All of which is a (very) long way of saying that your patience, as always, is most appreciated!
I’d tell you more about the Salon, except I don’t actually know too much about it because their website is, putting it mildly, in the running for the least useful Internet destination in the history of the known Universe. So I thought that I’d offer up a few interesting facts about the region instead, embellished slightly 1WineDude style for your edu-tainment…
Some Loire Did-You-Knows:
- Peasant-turned-religious-icon Joan of Arc first presented herself to the Dauphin in the Loire town of Chinon, where she imprudently demanded both that they put her at the head of the army, and that Chinon stop making stinky, Bretty red wines. Only one of those demands was met (obviously).
- In 2009, the Loire was not only #1 in white wine production volume in France, it was also the #1 wine region requested in French restaurants (and the #2 region for sparkling wine production in France, second only to (duh) Champagne.
- One of the world’s most interesting regions for white wines, Vouvray is an unique spot in that its entire acreage is devoted pretty much only to Chenin Blanc. What it lacks in varietal diversity it more than makes up for in stylistic diversity, however: just about every sort of wine is made here, from dry still whites to (various sweetness levels of) sparkling to dessert wines.
- In the Triassic era (when Coelophysis roamed the earth, and when Wine Spectator was founded), the Loire was at the bottom of an ocean. Sea fossils are relative common finds here, and its pre-history history is responsible for the area’s gorgeous tuffeau stone soil – which is used not only to carve out wine caves, but also to build some of the most impressive chateaux in the area and beyond (including spots like London’s incredible St. Paul’s Cathedral).
- The world’s most translated author is Agatha Christie, who was not from the Loire. But the world’s second most translated author was – Jules Verne. Verne was from Nantes, and as most people know predicted submarines and space travel in his sci-fi novels long before they became viable from an engineering perspective (he’s also rumored to have been the first wine blogger…).
More to come from Angers!
17 thoughts on “Joan of Arc, Jules Verne And Vouvray (At The Salon des Vins de Loire)”
Enjoy your time there! The Loire Valley is such a beautiful region… not just for wine ;-)
Thanks – well, it's covered in snow at the moment so I'll have to take your word for it ;-).
Yup! I know. I receive photos from my family where everything is under the snow right now. Still, have fun!
Thanks, Olivier – I did! But fear I am returning to the States a few lbs heavier from all of the food :).
I should add, after day one, that the Salon is a bit overwhelming. It's the size of a few large city blocks!
Fortunately, I've got a great group on this little tour with me and most of them are well-versed in Loire Valley wines, so I'm getting a bit of a guided tour, which is nice. More to come!
Ah the memories…experienced my first real hangover day in Châteaudun. The day before, we had landed in Paris for a school trip. That hangover went away with wine at dinner, and I somehow managed to keep it from returning for the rest of the trip ;) Fantastic nine days.
Todd – Nice! Wine as hangover cure… now *THAT* is a compelling sales pitch for a wine region! ;-)
Well, I think the subsequent and consistent wine consumption levels, insured that the hangover never had a chance, until the end of the return flight. The Loire loop we did was beautiful, and my gramps had been stationed at Châteaudun, so that was kind of cool.
The Loire is on the top of my "wine regions I must get drunk in" list;-) I've heard its gorgeous and I love how darn food friendly the white wines are. Chinon is also one of my fav reds to sip (minus the brett) and who could forget about the Rose!
P.S. Love all the humor and I hope you're having a blast! Cheers!
Thanks! I can attest at least to the food friendliness of the culture – they ate stuffing us over here! ;)
Sounds amazing, a “must add” to my never-ending story like list of places I must go. I really need to make one of those small fortunes in the wine industry I keep hearing about. Perhaps I was supposed to start with a small fortune to make one. Oh well, hopefully I will figure out how to take off at least ten percent of that list someday.
Joel – I'd advise starting with a very large fortune if you want to have a small fortune in the wine biz someday. ;-)
Haha, okay, so I know I'm getting sidetracked, but I started thinking about it and Jules Verne really does write like a wine writer…
Here are some actual passages from Verne and what he might have been blogging about:
Describing the color of a Cahors Malbec: "All was black, and such a dense black that, after some minutes, my eyes had not been able to discern even the faintest glimmer."
Describing the terroir in the Loire: "The Great Architect of the universe built it of good stuff."
Describing a refreshing but intensely dry chenin blanc: "Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides…It is nothing but love and emotion."
Describing the terrain in Béarn in the southwest of France: "The undulation of these infinite numbers of mountains, whose snowy summits make them look as if covered by foam, recalled to my remembrance the surface of a storm-beaten ocean. If I looked towards the west, the ocean lay before me in all its majestic grandeur, a continuation as it were, of these fleecy hilltops. Where the earth ended and the sea began it was impossible for the eye to distinguish."
I'll stop now. ;D
Ryan! Amazing!! This made my day and probably should be an entire post in its own right! Cheers.
Just had a bunch of wines from the Loire the other night: started with a Sparkling Vouvray, then a Pouilly Fumé, Sancerre, and a 2000 Foreau Vouvray. Continued with a 1999 Clos de l'Echo and finished off the evening with 1996 Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Moelleux Le plan de Jean. Such great wine and reasonable prices. Love the region! Snow sounds unusual, though!
masi – sounds awesome. Snow and the freezing cold temps here are relative rarities. Lucky me, eh? ;-)
For those playing along at home…
One thing I can say on day three of this massive Loire fest is that while I've tasted a ton of wines, I've not tasted a ton of bad wine. The relative quality level among the regional high fliers is very, very high… And in a lot of cases represents screaming values. More to come.
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