Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Gardens of Villandry




If you ever make it to the Loire be sure to visit Villandry near Tours. Its gardens are spectacular. It's a Renaissance era chateau whose most recent residents were the family of an American woman married to a Frenchman. http://www.chateauvillandry.com/ The huge kitchen gardens have vegetables and fruits as art. And the grape vine promenade is wonderful.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tortured Vines




It's really mind-boggling to see the stuff that passes for soil here yet lets grapes thrive. Grape vines love stress. They are the martyrs of the plant world. The more they have to struggle for nutrients and moisture the better the fruit. Go figure.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Henri Bourgeois Winery




The Bourgeois winery is a few minutes drive from the town of Sancerre. It is family owned and operated and surrounded by their vineyards. We were able to tour the bottling area and cellars and then taste a range of their lovely wines. They make a full range from basic Sancerre white and red to more select single-vineyard wines. The treat of the day was their Vendange Tardive. This honey-like dessert wine is not made every year. They carefully select late harvest fruit and make very small quantities. We tasted the 1997 and it was truly nectar. They only sell this at the winery so it's a treasure. A couple of the 2005s will be tucked away in my checked baggage.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

TMI on Goat Cheese




Visiting a Chèvrerie is not for the faint of heart...or olfactory. The goats are cute and whimsical and incredibly odiferous. And there are flies everywhere. But in this part of France the Crottin de Chavignol rules. The small white discs of cheese are labeled according to their age, jeune, moyen, or dur (young, medium, hard/aged) and the flavors range from mild to funky. They are all delicious and with a baguette and a bottle of Sancerre blanc or rouge it's a meal after my own heart.