Our first visit Saturday was to the Marc Brédif winery, located in vast troglodyte caves that date back to the 10th century. There are over 2 kilometers of galleries where the wine is made, fermented and stored. Our tasting was in a circular room with a definite mystical aura.
And what wines! We started with a 2017 Vouvray with 1.2 residual sugar. This is the classic Vouvray which is the most common version on the market, with lemon scents and white stone fruit flavors and very good acidity. All Vouvray must be made with 100% Chenin Blanc.
Next came 2002 Vigne Blanche which spent 20 months in oak, bone dry with a nutty flavor, followed by 1990 Grande Année, a moelleux style wine, in other words sweet but not the sweetest version.
We finished with 2 gems:1976 Vouvray, slight cinnamon aroma and ripe stone fruit, the high acidity balanced the sugar content superbly; 1959 Vouvray, one of the best vintages of the last century with a deep yellow color, ripe fruit, a wonderful expression of a botrytised wine.
We had lunch at La Cave, also located inside a troglodyte cave and with the meal, were served the Domaine de Cray, made by the owners, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cot (Malbec) and Grenache, a juicy approachable wine.
On our way to the last winery visit, we stopped at Chateau Chenonceau, my favorite castle on the Loire, and there are hundreds.
Located right on the Loire River is Chateau Gaudrelle and we were greeted by the dynamic owner, Alexandre Monmousseau, grandson of the Monmousseau dynasty of the Loire Valley. Alexandre bought the winery 10 years ago and has worked diligently to improve all aspects of wine production.
And the results are obvious. Gaudrelle has 22 hectares or 50 acres and produces 130,000 bottles annually. Alexandre told us that Chenin Blanc loves clay and limestone. The appellation goes back to the 4th century and St. Martin. There also used to be a big silk industry in the area.
Statistically the Loire Valley produces 60/70% sparkling wines.Alexandre prefers to use natural yeast and is a minimalist when it comes to wine making.
Here are the wines we tasted: Brut Millésimé 2015, made by the traditional Champagne method (although they can’t use the word Champagne), 32 months on lees, bone dry, fruity aroma, delicious; L’Extra Brut 2013, barrel fermented, yeasty aroma, very Champagbe like, produced from a single vineyard; Les Gués d’Armand 2016, from a single plot, with 1.5 grams sugar, it’s labelled ‘sec’, or dry and can age 10 years; Clos le Vigneau 2017, sec tendre 10 grams sugar, single plot and done in the classic style; Sur un Fil 2016 (demi-sec) fresh, ripe peach aroma, from a single plot , 25 grams of sugar; Réserve Personnelle Liquereux 2015, from the Clos le Vigneau) botrytis, ripe peach and apricot, 125 grams sugar.
Alexandre also told us the difference between moelleux (under 45 grams sugar) and liquereux (over 45 grams).
So during our visit to this area of the Loire, we experienced the complete range of styles: sparkling, still dry, semi-dry, sweet. This is a great area to visit so don’t hesitate!