Well, this Saturday was another fabulously beautiful weekend in Paris, and we woke up in the 5th arrondissement of Paris with our friend Philippe snoring in the living room - he'd come down from Lille the evening before and we'd gone out for some Lyonnais food, washed down with a good 2001 Bruno Clair Marsannay.
This day, though, after the coffee, o.j., croissants and Sauvignon jelly, we were heading out to the 8th arrondissement, where the Caves Augé were holding a big Loire tasting. Some twenty producers, spanning from Saumur to Sancerre (strangely, none from Anjou or the Muscadet area).
It was sunny and clear out with a light breeze and we reached Augé at 11:30 in the morning.
The atmosphere is exceptional; the winemakers are there in person at barrels, and you can talk and chat and even make insulting jokes, which Arnaud did a few times just for a laugh (n.b. some Touraine producers do not like being asked when they're going to hire Michel Rolland... but some Bourgueil makers burst out laughing).
2005 Paul Prieur Sancerre white, 2006 white and then rosé, then 2005 red. Mm. Prieur has always been one of my very favorite Sancerre producers, and the 2005 is pure while being very rich. The 2006 is lighter, tiny white-flowery, and lovely. The rosé has a lot of character. And red Sancerre... Hrrm, that's where we must part ways...
Hervé Villemade makes a range of Chevernys that are just excellent. From the entry-level 2006 white (a mix of Sauvignon and Chardonnay) to the Chenin-based higher level Cheverny to the exotic, oxydative Cour-Cheverny on over to the fruity, tangy and complex reds, I loved his whole lineup, and I am now planning on going straight to Villemade next time I'm in Cheverny, which will probably happen before the end of the summer.
By fall, we should make it over to Chinon and Bourgueil, which is nice, because Pierre & Catherine Breton's wines are still great (we tasted the lineup in March with Catherine at the Salon des Vignerons Indépendants, but that didn't stop us from tasting it again with Pierre on Saturday - two of the most knowledgeable and congenial winemakers you can imagine, and I was consoled to learn - after the catastrophic news in March that they were losing the Picasses parcel in Chinon - that a new piece of Chinon is in the works...)
The suave Chenins from Château Yvonne in Saumur reconciled me with that tricky-to-like (for me) grape. And I also liked a lean, vegetal (but in a good way) 2000 Clos des Roches Chinon, which reminded me of the style of Arnaud's grandfather - and lo, it turns out they're in Beaumont-en-Véron as well. Nice catch, I tell myself!
Late in the tasting, we met up with a Belfast native and current Paris resident Neil, who downed a few more tastes with us, and then we all went nearby for a big, cheap lunch, washed down with... a bottle of Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil. We are, of course, incorrigible.