11:17PM | Chinon | Loire Valley
We take our coffee in Amboise, near a bridge over the river Loire. Our first appointment is at 9am — a young energetic vigneron with only 3 hectares of vines, which he tends on the weekends. His wines are clear and crisp, all Chenin Blanc, both sec and demi-sec; we sample his pétillant-naturale (single fermentation sparkling wine).
Our second appointment is down the road in Vouvray, a marathon tasting of Chenin blanc that displays its remarkable diversity of styles — very dry to dessert-wine sweet. We taste 15 wines, as far back as 1990, and wonder at the vintage variation displayed among the cuvées.
After lunch we drive past Chinon to the Coteaux du Layon to meet a new vigneron who releases each vintage only 10 years after the harvest. Below their domaine is an extraordinary maze of small caverns, each full of a different vintage of wine, reaching back into the 1960s. Our tasting of six wines begins with 2005 (just released) and ends with 1968 — each wine is distinct and unusual, ranging from very sweet to mid-sweet. They show burnt pineapple, spice, and surprising freshness for their age.
Dinner back in Chinon, oysters and a dry Vouvray. Back to reds tomorrow.