Out and about in the vineyards yesterday we stopped for lunch in Fontevraud at Le Comptoir des Vins which is just opposite the entrance to the abbey. This little restaurant is partner to La Promenade in Bourgueil and works along the same lines: you choose a bottle of wine from the rack and a supplement of 8€ is added as a ‘corkage’ charge. This system enables you to buy something really interesting and for us that means a chance to ‘trade up’. We weren’t looking for a huge meal so opted for a mixed ardoise which consisted of a selection of terrines, black pudding, sardines, salmon and confit served with a few salad leaves as a nod to health. A basket of great bread and a bottle and voila!
Determined to try something different we choose a bottle of St Nicholas de Bourgueil (upon the advice of the owner) from Gérald Vallée. We know Gérald’s brother Mathieu well and work with his Saumur Champignys but had never tasted Gérald’s wines. Keen on the 2010 vintage we opted for Le Vau Jaumier a wine from youngish vines. One word to describe it – delicious. Initally the nose seemed a little closed but on the palate it opens up to reveal a huge array of crunchy red fruits with beautiful concentration and smooth tannins. A revelation and quite the best ‘new’ wine we’ve tasted out and about in a long time. Why we’ve never tasted his wines before I don’t know – if this wine is anything to go by, we can’t wait to taste his other wines including the top one, L’Envolée which is foot trodden for a period of 25 days.
It’s fair to say that the portions at Les Comptoir des Vins are less generous than at Le Promenade and there are more tourists (being where it is). But, the welcome is warm, there’s a great buzz about the place and the owner has a collection of 15,000 vinyl records that he plays on an old record player. While we were there we listened (and sang along to) Wings Greatest Hits (Silly Love Songs, Live & Let Die, Mull of Kintyre) and George Benson. Practically everyone in the place was tapping their foot.
For those of you reading this post who are coming to the Loire – give it a go and don’t be frightened by the menu. A table of Italians who came in and sat next to us then left because they couldn’t understand what was going on. The owner does speak a little English and the food is very simple but great. It’s worth it for an authentic experience.