Today we move to Nantes to meet up with our river cruise but not before stopping in Saumur for a tasting of sparkling wines at Gratien and Meyer.
This large (3 million bottle) winery also has 5 million bottles aging in their cellars. They have 5 km of limestone cellars and the entire Loire Valley has 1,500km. Their Saumur AOC ferments partially in stainless steel vats and oak vats. The blend is typically 60% Chenin Blanc and 40% Chardonnay and
spends 1.5 years on the lees.
The Crémant de Loire AOC uses Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the blend and spends 4 years on the lees which makes a rounder, richer wine.
After a winery tour, we were treated to their first ever Master Class and tasted the following wines: Saumur Brut, 60/40 Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay blend, the former adding citrus notes and the latter fruitiness, elegance and longevity, aged 16 months; Cuvée Flame AOC Crémant de Loire, aged 3 years, an equal blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, more mature with chestnut and walnut overtones; ‘1864’, 2010 vintage, a blend of 30% Chenin Blanc, 60% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir, 4 years aging, round, buttery, toasty, goes well with red meat and goat cheese, also Crémant de Loire AOC; Alfred Gratien 2009 Champagne, winemaker Nicolas Jaeyer was recently named Winemaker of the Year in France, this is a blanc de blanc Grand Cru, 1st fermentation in oak, toasty citrus aroma, buttery; Cardinal, a juicy blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.
We then had a sumptuous lunch in their new restaurant, Chateau Gratien, before continuing to Nantes.