The weather here in central France is perfect, neither too hot nor too cold. Once the sun warms up in the morning, lifting refreshing dew from the fields, sunny days get back to the job of gently ripen the grapes. Sugar levels are slowly increasing and will be carefully monitored by the growers and winemakers; flavours are developing and concentrating. The first signs of autumn leaf colour are showing in the surrounding countryside.
It is too early to say what the 2013 harvest will bring but, after the trials and tribulations of a challenging growing season the signs are finally looking good. Soon the winemakers will be too busy to think of anything but the harvest, but just before that happens there is a flurry of little wine fairs in towns and villages throughout the region. A couple of weeks ago we attended one at the beach-side park in Montrichard, while this weekend we are looking forward to the Fête de Vin at Cheverny.
The Montrichard event reminded us of why it is so important, if you have the opportunity, to taste wine before you buy it. Given that we were in the Sauvignon Blanc heartland we decided to try each of these from every vine maker at the fête, and only continue with his other offerings if the SB pleased us. One stand, surrounded by drinkers who we were assured were “experts”, did not please us one little bit and we quickly left to talk to the grower in the stand opposite. Here we found an organic vineyard producing superb Sauvignon Blanc, and many other wines in addition. We lingered, but where the only ones there for a while. We made new friends and contacts for our wine tour business, while learning a little more from each of the stands we visited.
Although only a few miles apart, the wines of Cheverny are different from the Touraine wines we tasted on that occasion. One excitement will be the opportunity to taste several wines made from the rare Romorantin grape, only used in the appellation of Cour-Cheverny. It is a Charnonnay-like variety which, in the hands of a good winemaker, produces wines similar to Chablis. A Romorantin vineyard at Domaine Henry Marionnet claims to be the oldest in France. It was planted in 1850 and somehow survived the phylloxera epidemic that devastated European vineyards in the late 19th century. In fact their current small parcel of Romorantin grapes was replanted from cuttings of the originals: they are not grafted.
As it is the 20th anniversary of the AOC Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny, we are looking forward to a great show of wines.