Bicycling through the Loire, part 2

Jun 27, 12 Bicycling through the Loire, part 2

Posted by in France, Lifestyle, Travel

The next day we had an early start, catching the train to Saumur, a short 45 minute train ride away. The weather was not as nice in the morning but as the day went on it cleared up to be a sunny afternoon. Seriously, when you’re on a bicycle, you don’t want it to be TOO sunny now do you? We headed through the vineyards of Saumur to our first stop of the day, Clos du Cristal. We had a wine tasting smack in the middle of the vineyards. An interesting note about Clos du Cristal is that their cabernet franc vines are planted against a wall with a hole about shoulder height. A large section of the vineyard is a series of rows of these walls.  Once the vines reach that height, the leaves and bunches of grapes all grow on the other side of the wall. The effect is that it looks like the vines are hiding from you on one side and the other side has grapes poking out of holes in the wall! This was done to keep the roots cool while still allowing the berries to get lots of sun. It seems to work as the cab franc was balanced with not too many vegetal notes coming through. Clos du Cristal is organic and they don’t use pesiticides as evidenced by the flocks of geese and chickens running around the vines. We hopped on our bikes and headed to a restaurant carved out of the soft rocks, L’Helianthe. I forgot to mention earlier that the region is dotted by troglodyte caves. The caves were dug out of the rocks thousands of years ago and were later used (and still are) as caves for the wines. Nowadays, it has become fashionable to use the caves as second homes by the locals. Or, a restaurant in this case. Lunch was quite tasty and one of the highlights was a Coteaux du Layon. Not far from the restaurant is Chateau de Targe....

read more

Bicycling through the Loire

Jun 25, 12 Bicycling through the Loire

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, Lifestyle, Travel

I tend to go on a fair amount of press trips as a wineblogger and they are all fantastic. I mean who wouldn’t enjoy the chance to visit the winemakers in their own milieu, tasting wines that quite possibly have been resting in the cellars for years or wines that never even leave the estate but are saved for special visitors. However, I recently came back from a trip to the Loire Valley in France that has to be one of my favourite press trips ever. The reason is quite simple, it’s because it was like no other press trip I’ve ever been on, a bicycling trip through the Loire. Usually press trips are an endless treadmill of get on the bus, get off the bus, taste, eat, repeat, sometimes up to 5 times in a day! It might sound like fun but if you have to do it for 3 or 4 days in a row, it can get very tiring. Now bicycling might also seem tiring but it was actually very exhilirating to be out in the fresh early summer fresh air of the French countryside. Not only that, but being on a bicycle, we could proceed at our own pace and stop and take a picture now and then or even stop and inspect the soil of the vineyards if we so desired. So many times I’ve been on a press trip bus whizzing through amazing countryside unable to snap a single pic. Before we started, Jim Budd, one of the wine bloggers on the trip wondered if this trip was designed specifically with bloggers in mind as no respectable “wine journalist” would deign to be forced to pedal around the countryside. Well, all I can say is, they don’t know what they are missing! The sense of wonder, joy and just plain satisfaction of feeling you’ve earned that lunch after doing 20 kms in the morning. I also loved the fact that I wasn’t cooped up on a bus for...

read more
%d bloggers like this: