Wines from the Loire are not for everybody. Except for the super-refreshing sparkling wine, made in the same way as Champagne, that starts every meal we had on the long weekend staying in Saumur. Or the bright pink Pinot d’Aunis rosé everybody in town seemed to be drinking, from flat-capped pensioner to gangly teenagers, in the local pub off the busy Saturday morning market. Not everyone would think of a Saumur-Champigny red with a sirloin steak like they did at the local Argentine restaurant – it’s an elegant crisp red rather than the usual full-blown Malbec. That’s a shame because the wines are packed full of fruit, especially the reds. Loire wines seem to be polarised between the natural wine crowd who love to fetishise grapes (fair enough) and the rest who have to wade through a lot of bottles, but when finding the bottle, re-confirms its classic status. There is a lot to love about the 2014 vintage.
The constant rain over the long weekend meant our original plan to cycle along the Loire river had to be cancelled. Instead, we visited an excellent local shop in Saumur and bought some under 20 euro bottles to get a feel for the latest vintage. The 2014 red vintage reminds me of 2009, a bit of flesh on the bones and as an aside, the 2009 Saumur-Champigny is delicious if you can still find it.