Monday, 30 March 2009

A Spring Wine Tour in the Loire Valley

What better time to come to the Loire Valley and taste wine than in the Spring. For a start many of the wines are still in barrel so we have an amazing opportunity to taste the wines still in production. The sap is just starting to rise in the vineyards, the trees are in blossom and the Loire River is all sparkly and starting to reveal it's sandy banks.

Barrel tasting the Saumur Rouge 2008 with Romain at
Domaine Guiberteau St Just Sur Dive
Romain's Chenin Blanc the Breze 2006 was superb and
we excitedly await it's release in May 2009!

Celine Dubois in the labeling room at Clos Cristal
organic winery owned by the Hospices de Saumur

The Tresor Room at Bouvet Ladubay.
The Sparkling whites produced in oak picked up the gold medal
at the Salon de Vin this year.

Natalie Mabileau pours a tasting of the St Nicolas de Bourgueil
LES ROUILLÈRES 2008 directly from the tank!

Bruno the winemaker at Domaine de Mihoudy
in Aubigne Sur Layon sampling the Bonnezeaux

The Barrel room at Chateau des Fesles
Recently bought by Chais de France but contrary to rumours
Bernard Germain and Lisa Heidemans are still at the helm
along with Gilles Biguet the original winemaker.

La Grande Maison - Wine Tours in the Loire Valley France

Sunday, 22 March 2009

La Grande Maison est Ouvert 2009

Tomorrow we re-open for the 2009 season.

Goodness I can't believe the holidays are finally over or have they just begun? La Grande Maison has raised her head from the winter dust and is all sparkly again. The Vine Room has had new windows, the signs have been repainted, the potager replanted, the cave restocked, the lawns mown, the windows washed...shall I go on?

Humble and Willow are ready to welcome all our new guests, the sun is shining, the hoopoes have arrived, the sap is rising in the vines and we have our first Wine Tour tomorrow!!

Humble Pie (HRH)

Look out for the Grape Pickers sign on arrival.

Now taking reservations for 2009
for our Chambres et Belle Salle A Manger!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Treves and Cunault from the Loire River

Sue takes to the helm.

There is no better way to appreciate the villages along the banks of the Loire River than by boat. So this weekend (our last weekend off before La Grande Maison re-opens for the season on the 23rd March) we headed off to our little cottage in Treves and waited for Pascal to deliver the latest addition to our fleet "Little Tern". We couldn't wait to get her out on the water and sailed straight away down to the tabac in Cunault for lunch.

Approach by water to Cunault

Elise our friendly neigbour in Treves has just taken over as the chef at La Cale. So if you want a spot of reasonable lunch then 11 euros gets you, for example, a salad of rillauds as a starter, salmon in a beurre blanc with vegetables and a plate of cheeses or a dessert . Washed down with a small pichet of local rose for 4 euros we sailed home very content.

Micaela tackles the tricky navigation over the shallows!!

Home in sight as we pass the Treves Tower

Where have they gone? I wanted to take the bigger boat!

The following day we were a little more daring and sailed around the island of Treves and out into the main river where the current was much stronger. If the river seems large from the banks then try sitting in the middle of it! However it is so beautiful and serene and there are plenty of herons, egrets and other birdlife to spot. We celebrate our 'maiden voyage' proper by mooring up on a beach and watching the sunset over Saumur Chateau in the distance with a bottle of Cremant. The end to a perfect day and the most beautiful spring weekend in the Loire Valley.

Chilled Wine on the Beach!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Good News for Diners and Internautes in France

Good news for both diners and wine writers on the internet in France this week.

First of all comes the news that TVA (or VAT) will be reduced in restaurants from 19.6% to 5.5% making it more affordable to dine out especially for our guests already suffering with a failing pound against the euro. This means that for example a dinner for two at 100 euros which would normally include about 20 euros in tax would now be a 5 euros tax making a 15 euro saving. Not bad ehh :)
Dining Out At the Tresor Belge

Our second piece of good news this week is that prior to recent scares that the French Government was about to ban advertising and writing about wine (and alcohol) on the internet that they have now taken a back step and it is legal again! Allegedly.....this is good news for all the wine writers, tourist sites and wine promoters who momentarily thought that their wine sites were about to become illegal in France.

Monday, 9 March 2009

The End is Nigh for Freedom of Speech in France ?

'What future is there for wine if we are not able to talk about it?"
Sign on the D77 into Le Puy Notre Dame late this summer.

Read more on Jim's Loire

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Wine Quote of the Week from La Grande Maison

La Bar Mme Bovray Hotel Flaubert Trouville

"Vin - Sujet de discussion"
Gustav Flaubert
"Wine - Subject of Discussion"
Gustav Flaubert