The first edition of Loire Millésime: 19th – 22nd April 2017
I have recently returned from the first edition of Loire Millésime organised by Interloire. It
was based in the now magnificently restored Abbey of Fontevraud
(https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbaye_Notre-Dame_de_Fontevraud). We were lodged in the
attached Hotel de Fontevraud (www.fontevraud.fr/Dormir-a- Fontevraud/l-hotel), which
has also been extensively renovated and greatly improved since I stayed there some 12
Enjoying the abbey’s current magnificence it is strange to reflect that from the time of the
French Revolution when the monks were thrown out until 1963 Fontevraud was a prison.
Napoleon issued a décret in 1804 to establish the prison with the first prisoners arriving in
1814. Fontevraud gained the reputation of being one of the hardest of French prisoners. In
1853 there were 1826 prisoners – the highest number ever housed here. The prison was
closed in 1963. However, The last prisoners did not leave until 1985.
Unfortunately it was decided that the major tastings – dry whites, rosés and reds – should
be with rare exceptions from the 2016 vintage. Although interesting for people like myself
who are able to spend a considerable time in the Loire and tasting these wines, it is
virtually useless for some who is rarely in the Loire and who has been brought to
Fontevraud at considerable expense. Interloire flew in a number of journalists from North
America – why get them to taste a mass of unfinished wines? Unlike Bordeaux the Loire
does not sell en primeur.
During our stay we had one very good tasting at the Domaine de Rocheville in Parnay
(www.rocheville.net/) (Saumur/ Saumur-Champigny) where we had the opportunity to taste
some 80 Chenin Blancs with their producers from Anjou-Saumur. The tasting covered all
styles – sparkling, dry whites through to very sweet with samples from Bonnezeaux and
Quarts de Chaume. The quality was impressive throughout the range, which were mainly
from the fine 2014 and 2015 vintages and always with that Loire mark of balance of fruit
and acidity giving a freshness even to the sweetest wines.
It was poignant and sad that during this celebration of Loire wines the producers were
engaged in a desperate fight to mitigate the effects of a series of April frosts. (See
separate post on these frosts.)