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Loire – The Garden of France (part 1)


A. Michel Brégeon’s vines in the Loire

Last week I spent a glorious three and a half days in the Loire Valley, a feat in itself because it usually takes that long just to drive across it! It is one of the most inspiring regions to visit because it offers some of the best value wine around. Despite everything I hate about Ryan Air, I cannot fault them on their handy destinations. So, this time around Nantes was my destination of choice and Muscadet my first stop.

We have been working with A. Michel Brégeon since last year (see blog Muscadet: The Worlds Greatest Value White Wine?). He extensively ages his wines in vat on their lees and once bottled, they usually need a bit of time to open up and express themselves. As a result, he has only recently begun to commercialise his 2006 vintage, unlike other areas in the valley who will be bottling the 2007 in the next couple of months. Despite difficulties in 2006, the area around Gorges tended to be a bit more protected than the rest of the region (its unique gabbro subsoil holds little water), and so rot was limited. His 2006 is glorious – mouth filling but with lots of freshness. Most 2006s in the region tended to be a bit ‘fat’ and occasionally lacked acidity. But this is not apparent in Muscadet, particularly chez Michel.

A quick drive (one and a half hours) led me to a wonderful restaurant outside of Savennières, in the little town (on an island) of Béhuard. Small and hidden away in one of its quiet cobbled streets lies this stylish modern restaurant. I was warmly greeted by its hostess who was most likely also the owner. Fresh, seasonal and tasty, I couldn’t ask for anything more – except for a lovely glass or two of top Chenin and a view of the wood burning fireplace alight. Everything fell into place.