During the first week of February the attention of the wine world focuses to a small town on the banks of the river Maine in central France, in the heart of the Loire Valley wine region.
Angers is the venue for the Salons des Vins de Loire, promoting the third largest wine producing area of France with a production of around 400 million bottles from 70,000 Ha (173,000 acres) of vines.
The Salons des Vins de Loire is the only major exhibition in Europe which features the wines of a single region, with 600 stands receiving around 9,000 wine-trade visitors from around the world. At the same time, eight fringe shows attract these potential clients before, during and after the exhibition, making this the “must see” heart of the wine world, for this week at the very least.
Needless to say I have tickets and I’m very excited to be attending for the first time, but I am also considering which of the other shows I should visit. At the ancient Collégiale Saint-Martin d’Angers the organisation representing a number of young winemakers called Les Vins Anonymes are exhibiting ‘natural’ wines from some thirty French producers, a good selection from the Loire amongst them.
I have been invited to a tasting of organic wines at the Greniers Saint Jean in Angers, whose organisers are also involved in the Diva Bouteille show at the Chateau Brézé, a fantastic venue in the huge underground caves beneath the ancient castle down river from Angers in the Saumur appellation.
This show features a selection of 45 organic wine producers from the Loire, but also some from the regions of Champagne, Alsace, Jura, Savoie, Bourgogne, Beaujolais, Bordeaux and the South-west, Rhône, Languedoc, Roussillon and Provence – Corsica. In addition a number of growers from other European and American countries are coming over for the event.
This all sounds like a great day out and I have invited our friend Stanley Browne, the ex-Chairman of the Vintners’ Association and a Loire wine expert, to join us on the Sunday. I gather he is arranging train connections from the UK as we speak!
On Monday I shall be working, on my own and concentrating on the Salons des Vins. That should be more than enough excitement for one day.