Wine Routes of Loire - The Classic Loire Wines of Chinon, Bourgueil and Tours  Plus Opportunities to revist France's medieval past at unforgettable Chateaux.  

 

Wines Of Chinon - Cabernet Franc at its Best.

Better quality, interesting wines at a fraction of the price of other classic French reds. . Based almost exclusively on Caberne Franc (although up to 10% of Cabernet Sauvignon is allowed, it is rarely used). Chenin produces some of the Loire’s finest reds. These range in style from easy, drinking wines to be drunk early, to more structured wines that in good vintages will last twenty years or more.
For touring, try visiting the villages of Cravant les Coteaux, to the east of Chinon, which has 40% of the AC’s vineyards or Savigny en Véron where the lightest wines come from. These vineyards are planted on the fairly flat gravel beds down by the Vienne.

On the limestone hillside vines planted on south-facing slopes are produced the long-lived, robust wines. Here are several of the top producers with the most famous vineyards. Modern winemaking techniques and rigorous standards have restored Chinon to its place of honour among French wines. Although aging may be in barrels, little fresh oak is used, so character of the grapes the featured characteristic.

Chinon red wines are best appreciated with food.. Lighter bodied Chinon, refreshing and fruity, is a perfect wine for summer drinking and picnics. On hot days these wines improve with slight chilling. Like many Zinfandels, this wine has enough character to stand up to the robust flavors of a barbeque. Older, richer, tannic Chinon like other fine red wines requires several years of bottle age before realizing its potential complexity. Serve with roast meats to taste the wine at its best. As you visit wineries and wine shops you can get guidelines from the producers as to when best to drink each of their wines.

BOURGUEIL AND ST. NICOLAS DE BOURGUEIL WINES 

Another excellent red wine purchase opportunity – low prices good quality and several vineyards and Chateaux tastining rooms to visit. This area is on the north bank of the Loire river between Saumur and Tours. The 2,350 hectares of the Bourgueil and St. Nicolas de Bourgueil appellations are planted with Cabernet Franc, with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. . Vines have been cultivated here since Roman times, but with the founding of the Benedictine Abbey of Bourgueil in 990, serious viticulture began. There is an ancient covered market which is best seen market days Tuesdays and Saturdays. .Look to buy the famous Bourgueil garlic.



 Chinon – Great History –Great Wines.


The Vineyards of Chinon occupy over 2,000 hectares on the banks of the river Vienne, an offshoot of the Loire . .

Chinon is a town rich in both culture, history, restaurants with a really interesting old town – la vielle ville.  There is also Chateau accomodations nearby.

 Chinon village  sits in between the Château on top of the hill and the river Vienne. For generations, it was the home of kings and the seat of the government.

Interestingly, the Plantegenet Kings ( of England). Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine lived here and kept the Royal Treasury in Chinon. His son Richard the Lion Heart was also born here.and part of him is buried here, his other parts buried with the above at nearby Royal Abbey of Fontevraud.


If you want a feel for the period and Chinon's and the Loires past, watch the film "Lion in Winter" with Katharine Hepburn. Be sure to visit the Château and walk the city’s impressive ramparts. It was to Chinon that Joan of Arc  came to meet with Charles VII with the purpose to raise an army.  The King  traded places with a court member as a test to see if Joan truly was guided by God, Joan came into the hall and walked directly to the real King, ignoring the imposter. She got her army,  her legend grew, along with vicories in the field  and subsequently led the King to Reims to be crowned.

 In the the  Chateau tower there is a Joan of Arc museum with English guides , explaining the complex political situation at the time using maps and charts.

 Joan of Arc is one of histories most remarkable figures and in the Loire and Champagne besides the wines you can see the historical places that feature in her life a worthwhile  side interest for your trip.

Chinon Bike Hire

Bicycles can be rented at the SNCF train station or at the of for a more personal sevice go to the hotel Agnès Sorel, 4 quai Pasteur, phone 02.47.93.04.37. They also have maps of the area with bike paths indicated. There are lovely paths that go along the river Vienne all the way to where it meets the Loire and  also trails through vineyards.

. There is also the Caves Painctes which are open to visit during July and August.  There is a worthwhile market day on Thursdays with other smaller markets often on Saturday and Sunday.


 


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Amboise Chateau

Good hotel deals throughout the region. Click Below.

Vouvray is the largest white wine appellation of the Anjou-Saumur-Touraine region and it produces splendid wines that vary from dry and refreshing to rich and sweet, as well as excellent sparkling wines.

All Vouvray is made entirely from Chenin Blanc, which has been grown in the region since the 4th century. No other grapes are allowed in the appellation. 

 Much depends upon the vintage conditions.
On average, 40% of each vintage is made into still wine and 60% is made sparkling. There are 4,695 acres of vineyards in Vouvray, on the right bank of the Loire, upstream from the city of Tours. . The perruches (siliceous-clay) and aubuis (limestone-clay) soils lie atop a subsoil of tuffeau, the limestone used to build the many châteaux of the surrounding countryside. The perruches produces rich, elegant and fruity wines, the aubuis makes for powerful, wines that are characterized bytheir minerality and spiciness.The style of the vintage – how much is fermented dry and how much is to make sweet wines – is determined by the weather, and varies from year to year. In cooler vintages, there are more dry and sparkling wines. In warmer years, sweeter wines predominate  as Vouvray vineyards are subject,  to botrytis cinerea, the mold responsible for most of the world’s greatest sweet white wines. In these years, harvest is delayed until well into November (the latest harvest in France) and there may be several pickings in order to harvest the grapes at optimum ripeness. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel or old oak casks, so extraneous flavors don’t interfere with the balance between fruit and acidity for which Vouvray is known. The wines are bottled soon after fermentation and aged in the bottle and can continue to develop for decades. When young, a dry Vouvray displays aromas of acacia, quince and almond. The quality wines will develop richness and depth over time without loosing their fresh and fruity character. Dry and demi-sec Vouvray pair well with shellfish – especially with those, such as scallops and lobster, that are slightly sweet – and with white meats.
The sweet wines are also distinguished by lively fruit aromas but the fruit is enriched with accents of ripe peaches and honey. These wines benefit from aging and have been known to last for decades in peak condition. They can be enjoyed on their own, as an aperitif or paired with foie gras, blue cheeses or with desserts such as apple tart or crème brûlée.

Sparkling and Petillant Vouvray wines show all the qualities of the still wines but with an even more pronounced flavor of minerals. They are an excellent aperitif, but are also excellent wines to drink with a meal. Pétillant referes to wines with only slight bubbles that give a tingling sensation to the palate.  With the quality of good Champagnes and a style of their these sparkling wines are terrific value for celebrations and special parties. .

In driving around Vouvray, be warned, that as in many  France villages it can be quite confusing as roads are poorly marked. 



Amboise A very special place in history.
Like all the chateaux of the Loire the Royal Chateau Amboise  is layered with historical stories that make great dinner conversations. In particular here, François I invited Leonardo da Vinci to spend the last years of his life at the Clos Luce, a small manor house close to the royal château of Amboise overlooking the Loire. ( see Amuse Bourches section).
With an interesting old town and a selection or hotels and restaurants its a good place to base your touring for this region  Wander the wonderful old centre with and be sure to visit Bigot . in the Place Michel Debré a famous  salon de thé, patisserie and chocolatier.  On Fridays and Sundays there is a large local market. François I invited Leonardo da Vinci to spend the last years of his life at the Clos Luce, a small manor house close to the royal château of Amboise overlooking the Loire.
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