Monday, 25 July 2011

Last of the Summer Wine in the Loire Valley

Our Loire Valley Wine Tours take you beyond the tasting room. We dig deep into the tuffeau and come up with some great visits. Based on an extensive knowledge of the area and personal friendships with many of the regions winemakers here are just a few of the July 2011 highlights.

Our Wine Tours are not just about tasting wine. With us you'll get to meet some great personalities, experience the character of the region and get an idea of what terroir really means. Here's a taster of our Summer 2011 Wine Tour Schedule to give you an idea of what you might expect.

Dined at sunny riverside restaurants or took a picnic in the vines

Took a walk out into the vineyards with Tessa Laroche at Domaine Roche aux Moines in Savennières

Saw the new winery at Chateau de Tigné owned by Gerard Depardieu. The mobile bottling line was there too!

Toasted a 70th Birthday with a bottle of sparkling whilst sailing down the Loire River.

Gained wine knowledge from experience winemakers

Listened to the wine fermenting in the barrels with Guillaume Pire
the winemaker at Chateau de Fosse Seche

Visited the high tech wine press facility at Langlois Chateau

Walked out into the vineyards around Le Puy Notre Dame for an explanation of viticulture

Tasted a wide range of wines at the swanky Chateau Soucherie in the Anjou region

Ate fabulous food with wines to match either at La Grande Maison or at local restaurants

Arranged exclusive visits such as the unique private label collection at Bouvet Ladubay

Tasted some great Chinon rouge at Wilfred Rousse

Tasted a fabulous line up of Saumur Champigny's at Domaine Filliatreau

Saw some stunning architecture & blus skies at Chateau Dupetit Thouars

Took a cycle tour out into the vineyards

Brought home the purchases!

Plus you get the chance to be welcomed into our home with the opportunity to stay at the beautiful La Grande Maison in the heart of the vines.

The 2011 Wine Tour season is pretty much full but do check for late availability just in case we have an odd slot. In the meantime we are now booking now for 2012 Wine Tours. Glasses, corkscrews & bottles at the ready we can't wait to hear from you. Sante!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Late Availability for Loire Wine Tours Summer Season 2011

Saumur Chateau

We currently have limited availability for our 2011 Wine Tour Summer Season but if you are looking for late availability then we have a few places left for the following dates :

7th - 10th July - 2 places (based on 2 persons sharing a room at La Grande Maison) for a 3 day Loire Wine Tour - what is included and price

10th - 13th July - 2 places (based on 2 persons sharing a room at La Grande Maison) for a 2 day Loire Wine Tour - what is included and price

Wine Tour Picnics are riverside or in the vineyards

Our Wine Sampling Supper and Stay Packages have been very successful this year and are also almost sold out save a few dates here :

1st - 3rd August 2 rooms for two nights (or more) on a Wine Supper & Stay Package basis

9th - 10th August 2 rooms for two nights (or more) on a Wine Supper & Stay Package basis

12th - 13th September 2 rooms for two nights (or more) on a Wine Supper & Stay Package basis

Here is what is included in the Wine Supper & Stay Package @ 285 EUROS PER COUPLE

Includes a 2 night stay on a bed and breakfast basis with one Wine Sampling Supper available on the arrival evening of your stay as shown below. Includes a bottle of sparkling wine on arrival and a private tour of the caves and tunnels at La Grande Maison

The Wine Sampling Supper is a delicious home cooked 4 course menu served with local AOC LOIRE wines to accompany each course. Coffee or tea and a cointreau or combier liquer are also offered at the end of the meal. The menu usually includes an entree and main course for example fresh oven baked salmon or tournados of beef in a mushroom marsala sauce, a selection of french cheeses and a dessert. All the ingredients are fresh and sourced locally at the markets. Many of the ingredients we use are organic or from our own potager when in season.

There is a fantastic selection of apertif, white and red local LOIRE AOC wines served during the meal.

Dining Experience at La Grande Maison

Other selected dates are available for Harvest Wine Tours during the months of September and October - please email to request availability.

Loire Harvest Wine Tours
NOW BOOKING FOR 2011 Harvest September / October

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Guest Blog - Memories for a Lifetime & Education in Loire Valley Wine

We have been back in Chicago for more than a week now, and still have vivid memories about our stay with you at La Grande Maison. From the minute you met us at the train and assured Andy that "yes, there's a lot of old here," we felt relaxed, welcome, and right at home. We loved so many aspects of our visit, but there are some we want to mention specifically. Our bedroom, with the fireplace, built-in sink, and giant wooden beams took us back to another era. The food, from our amazing and welcoming wine-paired dinner, to the fresh croissants, hand-squeezed orange juice and yogurt each morning, to the variety of a daily picnic spreads, and the restful, rejuvenating pleasure of afternoon tea, was all perfect for us. We enjoyed the company of each of you on our long jaunts each day, and we also appreciated the lively distraction of the dogs!

The little touches in your décor, the thoughtful aspects of showing us the "special" places for picnics or the unique clos with the walls that the vines grew through, to showing us the "Sleeping Beauty" chateau on an extra bit of our trip, all made this a wonderful vacation for us, one that we will always remember. We had fun wandering around in the nearby vineyards and woods near your home, and also meeting your neighbor with his beautiful prairie planting.

All of this would have been enough for a refreshing and restful vacation for us, but then if you add the value of our education about wine, and the opportunity to meet your favorite local producers, and their generosity in showing us caves, vineyards, and lots of wines, we feel especially grateful. Our two favorite places were Chateau du Petit Thouars with Michel, and Franck and Catherine's Domaine de Pied Flond. All the wineries we visited were special, but these hold a special place for us.

At Michel's, the character of his wine came through and matched his passion for the craft of wine making. The way he shared his knowledge of making wine with us really communicated his desire to have people understand what goes into making good wine. From the age of the barrels, to the different tanks he was using for fermentation, to the storage of wine in his cave, he shared his knowledge in an especially personable way. And indeed, his wines were amazing. We particularly liked that 2005 Touraine AOC Rouge. When we drank it in the pigeonerrie overlooking the vineyards surrounding La Grande Maison, with that lovely dinner that you so graciously provided, it was one of the romantic highlights of our stay. Michel's wine provided a perfect accompaniment to that lovely evening.

A rare opportunity to see the chai at Chateau du Petit Thouars

Franck and Catherine, from Domaine de Pied Flond, were perhaps the most charming and enthusiastic winemakers that we had the opportunity to meet. Franck's candid conversation about the reason he was making wine in a different way from his father, but within the traditions of the seventh generation family business, were so interesting to hear. His passion for making excellent wine, even if in (relatively!) small quantities, could be seen both in the way he operated, and in the taste of the wine itself. After this wonderful tour, where he showed us everything about his business and took his time to explain answers to our many questions (and seemed to delight in understanding the English word "fill"), we were then in the company of Catherine, who shared his interest and his passion for their wine. She was a knowledgeable and gracious hostess in leading us through tasting their exceptional wines. She was very good at explaining what food would work well with what wine, and imagining the pairing helped Diane understand more about the subtle differences in some of the wines. Catherine even brought out a lovely plate of ham, sausage, and bread to accompany the wines.

Franck Gourdon of Domaine de Pied Flond

On our return to Paris, we had our first opportunity to enjoy and appreciate Franck's fine work as we drank a chilled bottle of his Rose de Loire on our hotel balcony. The afternoon was hot, and the wine was a perfect accompaniment for our last afternoon in Paris, and we drank it with joy overlooking the dome of the Hotel Invalides and the Eiffel Tower. We are looking forward to drinking his other 2 bottles in the near future (or keeping them as long as we can stand it!), as we share the wine and our stories with our friends.

Gardens at La Grande Maison

We have been telling our friends about our trip and sharing our pictures. All are envious, and we hope some may come and enjoy your exceptional hospitality. We also would love to return to La Grande Maison ourselves; if that doesn't happen, we will have memories for a lifetime to recall our stay and our education in Loire Valley wines.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Wine Barrel & Bark ©

Arrghh so much time has passed since I have found time to write anything for the blog! We've been more than busy running wine tours and preparing wine tasting suppers for our lovely guests at La Grande Maison. We re-opened for the season at the end of March and have not stopped since!

Fruit Platter

Hey ho! Just snaffled a few minutes to post a few photos of some of Sue's new line of wine related products for Wine Barrel & Bark ©. These are hand crafted items, all unique and all made from either parts of a barrel or cork. Here is a small sample of some of the items we made over the winter period.

Contemporary Kitchen Hooks

All the items are hand-made from the original staves of a wine barrel that has been used to age Loire wines. The barrel is de-constructed first of all and then dried out. The individual staves are then sanded down to give them a smooth finish before they are waxed and polished.

Wine Glass & Bottle Holder

Sue then decides what to create. This might involve searching for vintage hooks to add to the stave from the many brocantes we have in the area or cutting the wood to create an item such as this wine glass and bottle holder.

Loire Valley Wine Cork Table

We have many more examples such as bathroom hooks, coat hooks, wine glass holders and fruit bowls available at the house. Each item is signed and comes with a certificate of authenticity. As if you need it with the wine staining still apparent on the staves.

Bottle Rack 100% recycled 100% hand-made

Prices start from 25 euros and items are currently only available for viewing and purchase at La Grande Maison. If you are interested then please ask to see what we have available during your stay and we'll show you around the workshop.