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LIVE from the Loire Valley, France Press Tour
Discover Castles and Great-Value Wines
We are LIVE from Amboise, France, where we are discovering the gorgeous Loire Valley countryside dotted with châteaux and vineyards. This is my first trip to the Loire Valley, so I was anxious to see what I had been missing. The Loire Valley spans 280 KM and stretches from the Atlantic far east to central France. There are charming medieval towns, fairytale castles, stunning gardens, and delicious food and wine. The Amboise village scene along the Loire River is vibrant and dotted with restaurants, wine bars, and shops as I will fully report later this Fall. Water sport lovers and bicyclists will find rivers and trails here to explore. What was Leonardo da Vinci doing here? It turns out he spent his last three years in Amboise at the invitations of royalty friends. I will discuss that in future articles.
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The Wines of the Loire Valley
The most well-known wines of the Loire Valley include Sancerre, Vouvray, Savennières, Pouilly-Fume, Chinon, Montlouis sur Loire, and Sancerre Rouge, of course all names after their towns or regions as is normal in the European wine world. I found more really fresh, crisp white and red wines representing the typical grapes of the region: Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chasselas, Gamay, and Grolleau. Many of the sparkling Crémant de la Loire wines are some of my most-recommended, great-value sparklers, especially the rosé Crémant sparkler. They can be found as white or rosé sparkling wines and are made in the same method as Champagne. In general, I found lovely, high value wines at a surprisingly low price. Don’t bypass this French wine region.
Wine Tasting in the Loire Valley
We have selected several stops for our trip including Château de Montdomaine and a visit to the restaurant/caves of Bistro Caves Ambacia. Both of these wineries add a modern and organic twist to 16th century locations. They both have the winemaking philosophy of “wine of terroir.” Stay tuned for future articles on this high value wine region.
Visiting Château de Chenonceau
Château de Chenonceau has been described as one of the most impressive châteaux in the Loire Valley. With the exception of Versailles, Chenonceau receives more visits per year than any other château in France. Its white walls, turrets, and impressive five-arched bridge towering above the River Cher provide a stunning vista. The current castle was built 1512-1522 over the foundation of an old mill. It was later extended to span the River Cher. In the 13t century the fief of Chenonceau belonged to the Marques family. It was seized and changed hands several time until Catherine de’ Medici was the owner in 1559. She spent a fortune on it and gave lavish nighttime parties within. The gardens and floral maze are breathtaking, also reminding you of the intricate gardens of Versailles.
In recent history José-Emilion Terry, a Cuban millionaire acquired the castle. In 1913, the chateau was acquired by Henri Menier, a family famous for their chocolates, who still own it today. I was amazed at the size of the tourism business surrounding this beautiful castle: bus tours, river tours, balloon tours, bicycle tours, paddling boarding, and even kayaking under the famous arches. I will be more specific in a future article.
The Loire Valley is close enough to Paris to spend a full day exploring and be back to the city for a late dinner. We are fortunate to spend 3 days exploring the lovely area near Amboise. Contact the Tourism Office- Amboise Loire Valley for tours, events, and reduced-price entrance tickets. This active office also sponsors private events and markets on the grounds of several castles.
Langlois-Chateau Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé, Loire Valley, France, $24
Wilfred Wong, 91 Points
Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups Triple Zéro, NV Sparkling Wine, Loire, France, $39
Wine & Spirits, 92 Points
2020 Domaine Grosbois Chinon Gabare, Chinon, Touraine, Loire, France $43
Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points
2020 J. de Villebois Sancerre Les Monts, Damnes, Sancerre, Loire, France, $57
Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points
2018 Domaine Xavier et Agnes Amirault St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Le Vau Renou, Chinon, Touraine, Loire, France, $55
Robert Parker, 93 Points – a Cabernet Franc
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