Yesterday afternoon I had occasion to go chat for a while with Jean-Christophe Mandard, one of our local grape-growers/wine-
makers. Mandard makes excellent wines on the west side of the village of Mareuil-sur-Cher, on the south bank of the Cher river. That's about 30 miles east of Tours and 25 miles south of Blois.
A couple of years ago we went with some friends from California for a nice dinner in the trendy 11th-arrondissement restaurant in Paris called Astier. Two of J-C Mandard's wines, a white and a red, were on the restaurant's wine list. We tried them both and they were excellent. I buy wine in bulk from Monsieur Mandard, and the white I got from him yesterday is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay. I tasted it and it is good.
Mandard and I talked about the vendanges, the grape harvest. He said he has started bringing in some of his Gamay grapes, which could be a touch riper but will be riper by the time he gets the rest of them harvested next week. Some less ripe and some more ripe grapes should make for a good Gamay wine, he said, and better safe than sorry...
I asked about the other red grapes he grows. Amy H. had said on her blog that over near Bourgueil and Chinon, where she lives, the harvest wouldn't start until September 20 or even September 24. In a comment on my blog yesterday, she mentioned that the harvest here seemed to start earlier than on the west side of Tours.
I wondered if there was that much difference in the climate. Mandard said it has more to do with the grapes themselves. Gamay can be harvested now, but the Côt (a local name for Malbec grapes) wouldn't be ready to harvest until late next week, and the Cab. Franc wouldn't be ripe until the week after that. That puts it into the same timeframe as the Bourgueil/Chinon harvesting of the same grape.
I'll be glad when all the grapes have been picked so that I can stop taking pictures of them! I took all the ones above before sunrise this morning.