Life in the Loire after lock-down. Weekly update. 6th September 2020.

The week started with very sad news. The sudden and brutal death of Frederic Mabileau, reknowned top quality winemaker in the St Nicolas de Bourgueil appellation.

Fréderic Mabibeau who died suddenly in a tragic microlight accident

Fréderic – just 53, had a microlight accident. So unexpected and so awful for his wife Nathalie and their two sons Rémy and Charly. The village of St Nicolas was in shock as was the rest of the Loire.

One minute the family was ready and prepared for harvest and then, the next moment, everything turned upside down.

Some of you may remember going to taste his wines with us. His were some of the best and we often included them in our tastings.

It’s put a dampner on harvest for the other growers who are all rallying around giving any support they can. Charly and Rémy have taken on the responsibility of harvest. Our thoughts are with the family at this very dificult time.

We caught up with friends Ali and John of Loirelife Cycling holidays this week for a picnic. Ali and John run lovely cycle tours with homecooked dinners and full back up for small groups. We used to receive their groups for tastings when we lived in Anjou but sadly they’re too far away from us here in Noizay so when we moved, our business collaboration came to an end.

Our friendship however did not! They, like us, have had an extremely tough season. It was great to catch up, to laugh at ourselves and have a picnic in the sunshine.

We chose to meet up in Luynes (just outside Tours) as it seemed to be a convenient place halfway. What a lovely place is it! A lovely little town. Beautifully maintained with a lovely cobbled centre, a couple of little restaurants, a bar and lots of outside space to picnic. It’s definitely a place I could recommend for a lunch stop or potter.

The official ‘ban de vendanges’ for the Vouvray appellation has been announced for Monday 7th September. It’s possible to pick earlier if you have special permission and we caught up with Michel Autran on Friday bringing in the grapes from his parcel just above our house on the vineyard plateau.

Michel Autran in his vinyards this Friday

My Dad turned 90 on Saturday. Our visit to the UK to help him celebrate had to be postponed due to the quarantine restrictions but we were able to organise a FaceTime call with all 3 grandchildren as well as ourselves (after much scratching of heads). It made his day to see us all on the same screen.

My Dad and Mum with his brother on fine form celebrating his 90th

He received around 30 cards, endless boxes of chocolates, a lovely bottle of wine from his local supplier (obviously a good customer!) and a 1982 Claret (ashamed to say I can’t remember which one). My cousin made him an enormous chocolate cake and his younger brother (about 88) cooked dinner for him and Mum. Not bad for 90.

Next week I’ll be following the harvest chez Tania & Vincent Careme. Every day I’ll be out and about taking photos, recording the odd live video and posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It’ll be lovely to be close to harvest at a time when we are normally busy with clients.

Vincent with his two boys checking sugar levels in the grapes this weekend

On Sunday we popped over to see Peter and Juliette Hahn at Le Clos de la Meslerie in the Vouvray appellation. They started picking on Saturday so we caught up with them on the second day of harvest. Peter and Juliette are good friends and we’ve not seen much of each other since the lockdown so it was lovely to catch up (at a distance) and see the old wine press in action. Peter makes just 10,000 bottles of Vouvray each year from 4 parcels around his beautiful home. We tasted the juice from the south and east parcels. Quite different, one richer and sweeter, the other higher in acidity.

Peter & Juliette Hahn mid harvest at their lovely home in Vernou-sur-Brenne

Seafood pasta, sardine and potato bake, aubergines with mozarella, tomato and basil and beef ragu have been on the menu this week.

On the wine side, we really enjoyed the Anjou Rouge from Leduc Frouin with the sardine bake. You might not think to match a red wine with a fish dish but the tomato and sardine went particularly well with the young fruity Cabernet Franc.

Les Busardières 2014 Bourgueil from Domaine de la Chevalerie on Saturday night was also tasting fabulous. With real smokey notes and dark black fruits, super silky tannins and lovely weight, it was great with the beef ragout.

Next week will be harvest, harvest harvest so look out for lots of pics in the meantime on the FB page and on Instgram.

See you then!