Life in the Loire after lock-down. 6th June. Day 27 of déconfinement.

Today’s going to be an admin day. Income 2019 declaration on-line, updating the accounts, printing off official papers to sign. What joy!

It will probably mean a day of frustration trying to a) understand what is required b) tick the right boxes c) fill in the right blanks and d) stop myself from throwing the computer out of the window when all the websites crash half way through.

The back is slightly easier today (famous last words). Not quite such a trial getting dressed this morning which is positive.

Lunch today was a clear out the fridge affair. A little Thai rice left over from last night mixed with some cubes of cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, the last 2 spring onions in the drawer, half a tin of cooked lentils lurking at the back and a dressing made with mustard, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. We had no meat in the fridge so I looked to the storecupboard for inspiration and found a tin of sardines with lemon. Just the job.

I made some buttery shortbread just before lunch so for dessert we had a slice of that with a Marsala and cinnamon poached pear (there were two left over from our dinner with John and Sheila) and a spoon of Greek yoghurt.

One minute I’m thinking we have nothing to eat and the next we’ve had this rather nice, just a little decadent lunch.

There’s a chubby little chaffinch chick hopping around in the garden today. We first saw it yesterday, swaying from side to side by the bird feeder with its eyes shut. We thought maybe it had left the nest too early. It seems oblivious to any possible danger. Frankly we’re amazed that Pesto (or Monza or Bigi), hasn’t swept it off its feet to a rather unpleasant end. We, meanwhile, are having palpitations every time it potters about, fluffy feathers blowing in the breeze. Ah the innocence of youth.

Nigel appeared from the cellar with a magnum in his hand this afternoon. Seems a bit over the top for just the two of us. Clos de la Thibaudière Saumur Blanc 2013 Brézé from Domaine de Rocheville. It’s the last of three magnums we bought 7 years ago when we visited with our friends (and most loyal clients) Chris and Margaret.

Clos de la Thibaudière 2013 Brézé Saumur Blanc

Brézé is one of our favourite locations for Chenin Blanc. Quite different to Chenins from Vouvray or Anjou. They’re much leaner and tighter with a limey freshness and taught linear style that we absolutely adore. It also makes them perfect for ageing. It’ll be interesting to see how this has developed since we last tasted it.

The other thing about Chenin is that you can open it and drink it over the course of a few days. It loosens up, changes and reveals new characterstics. New and different aromas creep in as it’s exposed to a little oxygen. Even the temperature of serving changes its character.

So actually, a magnum wasn’t such a bad idea after all. We can see how it changes, evolves, develops over the next couple of days (or so). Can’t wait.

Nigel cooked this evening. Some roasted baby peppers, chipolata sausages and my favourite – sweet potato mash.

We enjoyed a glass of the Clos de la Thibaudière as an aperitif. Still tight as a drum and fresh as a daisy. This is a wine that still has many years ahead of it. Damn! It’s the last one in the cellar. Isn’t that always the way. If I’ve heard that once I’ve heard it a hundred times as we really enjoy a wine. “That’s the last one”.

With delicate aromas of white flowers and lime there’s also a note of oak that comes through on the nose. No surprise there, it was fermented in a mixture of large and small oak barrels. The acidity is still very pronounced but we love that. It still seems young and vibrant. It’ll be interesting to see if it tastes different tomorrow.

With our dinner we drank a bottle of red from Sicily. Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2018, the only DOCG in Sicily, from Planeta. 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato from the area around Dorilli between the sea and the Iblean mountains. These indigenous grape varieties give a wine that is bright and fresh with pronounced flavours of cherry, pomegranate and strawberry.

Grapes are destemmed and then undergo a 14 day maceration before a cool fermentation in stainless steel vats (23°). Pressed very gently using a basket press, the wine is then matured in stainless steel for a few months before bottling.

We love this style of wine. Beautiful weight and balance, lovely acidity. Just so drinkable or ‘digest’ as the French would say.