26 November 2008

Montlouis and Vouvray

Yesterday we took a drive over to Montlouis and Vouvray, two of the Loire Valley's most famous and prestigious wine villages, to do some tasting and buying. We went to three wineries, two which were new to us and one where we have been regular customers for eight years now. That last one is Jean-Claude Aubert in the Vallée Coquette at Vouvray, and here's a topic I wrote about it a while back.

The slow-moving Loire River at Montlouis

The two new wineries, François Chidaine in Montlouis and Domaine Huet in Vouvray, practice what they call "biodynamic" methods of cultivating their vines and making their wines. Both make white wines pretty much exclusively, in a range of styles that goes from both dry and sweet sparkling wines to dry, semi-dry, and very sweet still wines.

Vouvray and Montlouis are villages across the Loire River from each other, located abouth half-way between Amboise and Tours. The grape grown in both wine-production areas is the Chenin Blanc. Wines from both villages can be cellared for many years and will improve with age — especially the sweeter still wines.

"Tiny bubbles" — fines bulles — is the new name
being given to sparkling Loire Valley wines

It was a grayish afternoon with some pale blue patches of sky. We ran through one fairly heavy rain shower late in the afternoon. We did tastings at all three wineries, mainly of sparkling wines, which were our focus. So we were bien arrosés (well sloshed?) from all points of view (but we didn't overdo it). I'll write more about the tasting rooms and experiences, as well as more about the biodynamic wine production methods, over the next week or ten days.

This is a moldy old poster I noticed at the Aubert winery.
It says: "It's true that our wine caves are not right next-door to
your dining room, but happily our wines travel very well."

Today is the day before Thanksgiving and we have to go out and get the food we will be preparing and eating tonight and tomorrow. It'll be a leg of lamb instead of a turkey, with garden-grown green beans and other trimmings. Thanksgiving in not a holiday in France.


  1. I grew up on a biodynamic farm. My grandfather was friends with Alex Podalinski, the man who introduced the method to Australia. Alex, who was a Polish Count (but known by his Australian friends as 'Pod') was a close associate of Rudolf Steiner, who first developed the biodynamic theories out of his wholistic approach to life which he called Anthroposophy. Nowadays, the Steiner schools are the legacy of this movement that people have heard of if they know it at all. The farming methods seem to be coming back into favour the last couple of years I notice, with French winegrowers being at the forefront. I had read about Domaine Huet recently on Jim's Loire, so I am interested in your visit there.

  2. Hi Ken,
    Sweet still Vouvray wines age very well. I can vouch for that, as I drank a Vouvray 1959 during our stay in Vouvray this summer. It had an amber golden colour and the taste was sublime. Afterwards our host (a famous former restaurant owner - you probably know who I mean) gave in bottle from my year of birth (1957). I keep it as a souvenir as it is too precious to drink.
    BTW: we also bought some biodynamic Saint Nicolas de Bourgeuil, called 'Huluberlu'. Apart from its funny name it is a unusual and very refreshing red wine that should be drunk within the first year. You should try it!

  3. Happy Thanksgiving to y'all ....I'm resting before starting the cooking prep....turkey, dressing, cauliflower au gratin,mashed taters, cranberry chutney, lotsa gravy, fresh peas....friends bringing pies so i don't have to bake....Cheers!

  4. I love going to Vouvray and Montlouis. Lots of fun memories of being totally bien arrosé!
    Have a great Thanksgiving and don't work too hard.

  5. Going to my next-door neighbors for diner tomorrow. Will be baking a Sweet Potato Casserole. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you.

  6. Over the summer, we had a rather entertaining series on TV about an English enthusiast taking over a vineyard in the Pyrenees to run it biodynamically. The tone was generally rather humorous and sceptical, but his first production seems to have made the grade in the UK market, and although the locals were a bit non-plussed they seem to have taken to him. You can see a few clips at:


  7. I ate for many years from a biodynamic farm in Massachusetts, U.S., where the veggies were incredibly wonderful. An interesting book on that kind of farming is "The Secret Life of Plants," by Peter Tompkins.

    Glad that the process is now being applied to vineyards. One of the good things about that kind of farming is that it doesn't require large uses of petrochemicals.


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