15 May 2009

Domaine de la Renaudie

While our vegetable garden grows, so does the much bigger garden planted by our neighbors the Denis family. They have about 60 acres planted in grapes, including the vineyards that nearly surround our little piece of Touraine real estate.

Part of the Denis family's vineyards right outside our back gate

Patricia and Bruno Denis grow Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Gamay Noir, Cabernet Franc, Côt (Malbec), and Pineau d'Aunis grapes on their land. They are the third generation of their family to grow grapes and make wine here. Bruno's father Jacques is still active in the business, with a couple of plots of vines that he planted three or four years ago and tends to himself.

The Domaine de la Renaudie's new look for 2008.
We enjoyed this bottle with some visiting Australians this week.

I think the Touraine wine business is doing well right now. Wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne are pretty expensive now, what with the economic downturn. Touraine wines are competitive both from a price perspective, but also because of the range of wines made here, from dry whites to dessert wines, from light Gamays to more structured Cabernets and Côts, on to dry peppery Pineau d'Aunis rosés and sparkling wines made from Chenin and Chardonnay.

The Renaudie's little white van parked just outside our hedge

Patricia Denis recently told me that she went to a wine fair in Stuttgart and that the German market for Touraine wines is booming. Up at the wine co-op in Saint-Romain, one grower producer said that he is experimenting with different vinification technniques that will produce the kinds of wines the German public prefers.

The vines seem to be enjoying our wet May weather.

The market for bubbly Touraine is getting stronger and stronger, evidently. They used to call the process they use to make the sparkling wines « la méthode champenoise », but Champagne producers succeeded in getting exclusive rights to that term. Now it is called « la méthode traditionnelle ». And Touraine wine companies are marketing their sparkling wines under the name Fines Bulles de Touraine — Touraine tiny bubbles! The quality is good and the prices are affordable — 5 to 8 euros a bottle as opposed to 25 to 40 euros for Champagne.

The Denis used to sell a still Chenin Blanc wine that I really enjoyed, but they don't have it any more. Bruno said all the Chenin is now going into sparkling wines, to keep up with that market. I'll have to fall back on Vouvray Chenins for my still wines. I also like the Chardonnay white vin de pays produced by the co-op in Saint-roman.

And so are the big yellow banana slugs.

The Denis family calls its winery the Domaine de la Renaudie. The core of their holdings in the area is the vineyard centered on La Renaudière, the hamlet where we live. We treat it as our own private park for walks with the dog. And then we enjoy the wines when we get back. Well, not Callie. She's a T-totaler.


  1. Can we find it in the U.S.? I'd love to find it, although I mostly rely on Trader Joe's to get my inexpensive wine. You forget how much it costs to drink good wine in the U.S. as opposed to France

  2. While I'd love to find these wines in the US, there are a good number of excellent Touraine wines available here, at least in the Northeast. I recently had an excellent Gamay from Clos Roche Blanche, for example. And with Sancerre and the like pretty much pricing themselves out of most people's budgets, Touraine wines from Sauvignon Blanc are selling quite well here. And while none of thse are as cheap as in France, they are quite reasonable in comparison to what else is available.
    And I wonder where you live, Paulita. I'm sure good, reasonably priced Touraine wines can be found in other places besides the Northeast.

  3. I found Clos Roche Blanche wines in Urbana, Illinois, a few years ago. Catherine Roussel lives and grows grapes just three or four miles up the road from us.

    The only place I know of in America that sells Domaine de la Renaudie wines is in Camarillo, California. Patricia Denis told me a few years ago that she had found a distributor in Michigan. She shipped the wine with an invoice. She was never paid and had to write it off. I was embarrassed when she told me about that.

    I used to find Vouvrays in San Francisco. And also Sauvignon Blanc from the co-op in Oisly-Thésée, which is well known. I have also found Saumur and Touraine wines in a shop in my little home town in North Carolina.

  4. And here are 1 and 2 other posts on the same site about Saint-Aignan area wines. They'll give you an idea about what it is like to make, taste, and buy wines here in the Cher River Valley.

  5. Go Banana Slugs!! (Yes, I'm a UCSC grad.) Didn't know they had 'em in France--though yours looks a tad...well..orange (must be a U.T. or Princeton slug).

  6. I am learning more and more about wine from the Touraine region. With
    cheese from "chez Loulou", insects and birds from "le jardin de Lucie" and beautiful pictures from
    "passion de la nature", I am satisfied everyday.

  7. Your blog is full of good ideas and information. We plan to do a spot of wine tasting in a couple of weeks' time so we may well take up your recommendation and venture to your end of the Loire instead of our usual visit Chinon way. We have become a bit predictable in our wine-buying habits. Time for a change. Thanks for the info.

  8. Jean, if you like Chinon reds, try either Cabernet (which is however the same grape as in Chinon and the comparison might not be in Touraine's favor) or, better, the Côt wines here in the Cher Valley. Our neighbors drink only Côt when it comes to our local wines. We like Gamay, which is lighter.

    Leslie, the big slugs here are orange and I only called them banana slugs because I knew the yellow ones up in the Santa Cruz Mountains when I lived in the Bay Area. I don't know what these French orange slugs are called.


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