“A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.”- Louis Pasteur
After a few days in the village of Amboise, we headed to the larger city of Tours. Our route took us through the village of Vouvray and its surrounding winelands. Our cycling paths continued to be well marked and include plenty of car-free bike paths.
The Loire is a fantastic place to bike. There are a lot of bike campers and families abound given the relatively flat surroundings but the hardcore roadies are also out on the occasion 18% grade!
On the way we stopped at Chateau Gaudrelle, one of the many wineries in the area. Producing about 100K bottles of wine, it is considered a medium-sized winery (and only has 6 full-time employees). The Appellation d’Origine (AOC) for this area is dedicated almost exclusively to growing the Chenin Blanc grape.
Engaged in a fascinating discussion with a very passionate wine maker, we ended up staying all afternoon at this one winery. We tasted 10-15 different wines all made from only the two grapes of the region served with some wonderful rillette and fabulous goat cheese. It was amazing to taste the differences created by different soil types (clay and limestone) and by micro-climates influenced by sea or mountain winds. We also got a chance to tour their caves and observe their ancient manual machines for aging sparkling wines (actually used to ‘riddle‘ the wine to settle the yeast lees). Not as well known as Champagne and harder to get in the States, sparkling Vouvray wine is quite popular in the Loire region, and many argue offers better value than Champagne and better quality to Cava and Proseco – although most making those arguments are not Spanish or Italian. We recommend tasting all four and making your own decision!
After three hours of wine tasting, we were ready for our cycle into Tours, one of the larger cities in the Loire with a vibrant mix of old and new.
We enjoyed our overnight in Tours but are looking forward to getting back out into the country and the small villages later in the week.