“Tonight?” he asked in accented English. “You want to stay tonight?”
“Yes,” we assured him, “yes please.” It was about 8pm and we’d be there as soon as we could.
On that gray fall day, our morning began early in Hautvillers, Champagne, with me catching up with work back in California and then getting ready for a ride to the station in Reims where Sue and I took the train into downtown. A few blocks away our rental car wasn’t ready but they stored our suitcases so we could grab pastries and coffee as well as snacks at the grocery store for our drive south to the Loire. And then we were on our way with Sue navigating and me driving.
We skirted Paris but the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chartres Cathedral called so we stretched our legs, gazed at the stained glass, and circled the grounds.
However, this trip was not about sight seeing but wine tasting, and preparing to compete in the 2019 World Blind Wine Tasting Championship so we moved quickly along our way to Saumur in the Cabernet Franc heartland of the Loire where we also knew we’d find biodynamic and organic wines.
We had a few wineries on our list including Chateau Yvonne, Amirault and Careme, but nothing set up; we didn’t even know where we were staying. We’d left Hautvillers about 12 hours before when we heard that positive response from the surprised Air BnB host in nearby Montreiull- Bellay.
An even better surprise: our host, hearing we wrote about biodynamic wine, had an open bottle of wine to share with us — a biodynamic wine given to him the night before!
We could not believe our amazingly good fortune! And our host helped us get an appointment to taste at Manoir de la Tête Rouge with a chance meet with the winemaker Guillaume Reynouard if he could get a break from his final day of harvest!
About 25 years ago, in 1995, Guillaume Reynouard decided he wanted to make wine.
He and his wife had purchased a run down mansion, Manoir de la Tête Rouge aka the red headed man, and began renovating it a few years before. In 2019, that’s where we had our tasting.
In 1998, he began converting vineyards to organic and his first vintage was in 2001. By 2010, he had his first biodynamic vintage. Using only natural yeast, he finds the wines develop more slowly with less alcohol.
This year’s heart breaking frost at bud break is not unusual: winters have been warmer with bud break earlier and then a frost can take out 30% or more. No buds means no fruit. As a biodynamic winemaker who seeks to partner with nature and not rule over it, he struggles with various methods that fall within the biodynamic philosophy and certifications.
“We consider our 18-hectare area as a living being, the cultivated soil and the surrounding air become the energy base of the vine. Our goal is to provide the plant the best possible environment to grow.”
“The concept behind biodynamics is that everything in the universe is interconnected and gives off a resonance or ‘vibe’. The interconnectivity of everything even includes celestial bodies like the moon, planets and stars. Biodynamic viticulture is the practice of balancing this resonance between vine, man, earth and stars. Essentially, biodynamics is a holistic view of agriculture.” (source)
- 2018 Guillaume Reynouard “A Tue Tete” Grolleau Gris, Vin de France
- NV Manoir de la Tête Rouge “Tetris” Vin de France
- 2016 Manoir de la Tête Rouge “Tete de Lard” Saumur, Puy Notre Dame
LOIRE INSPIRED MENU
Game and goat cheese as well as oysters are famous in the Loire. Mushrooms and chestnuts feature in many recipes. When we visited, we were surprised to find that in the Farmers Market, you can buy beets already cooked!
- Sue’s Savory organic gouda shortbread crackers (recipe)
- Green Olives
- Organic Pate
- Cheeses: basic chèvre, brilliant savarin, boucheron
- Truffle Brie
- Chard and squash gratin (recipe)
- Beet salad with chèvre and chestnuts
- Venison sausage
- Rack of Wild Elk with mushrooms, chestnuts, shallots, and truffle brie
I purchased with an industry discount
But I’d like to see Jancis Robinson turn her nose up at this wine!
NV Manoir de la Tête Rouge “Tetris” Vin de France
Sue purchased at the winery with an industry discount
Color: Garnet, unfiltered, a bit cloudy, mauve rim
Sue purchased at the winery with an industry discount
We get great wines all of the time to sample. These wines from Loire we experienced were so much more than great wines. They were contemplative, complex, unusual, and in every way they push the envelope.
All of these wines are for wine geeks. They are so interesting. Wines that you cannot really put your finger on. Wines that you want to sip, discuss, and enjoy.
In addition, tasting these wines this past month as we hosted the Winophiles theme of Organic Loire brought back such wonderful memories about how we stumbled upon this winemaker and others as well as our experience during harvest in October 2019.
- Nicole Ruiz Hudson does “Cooking to the Wine: Domaine Huet Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux & Pork Tenderloin with Citrus Gastrique” on Sommstable
Jane Niemeyer suggests “Tasting and Pairing Loire Valley Wines” on Always Ravenous
Linda Whipple shares “Organic Muscadet and must-have oysters” at My Full Wine Glass
Terri Steffes invites you to “A Tasty Dance: Red Beans and Rice with Les Parcelles Mark Dupas Sauvignon Blanc” on Our Good Life
- Andrea Lemieux offers “Pascal Jolivet & Sancerre the Way Nature Intended” on The Quirky Cork
- Cam Mann has “Porc aux Pruneaux (Pork with Prunes) + Chateau de Parnay Le Blason de Parnay 2018” on Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Host Gwendolyn Alley on Wine Predator shares “Loire’s Biodynamic Manor Tete de Rouge For Unusual Reds”
All are welcome to participate in our #Winophiles Organic Loire twitter chat. All times Pacific. Remember to include the hashtag #Winophiles.
- 8am Welcome to the #EarthMonth #Winophiles chat on #Organic @LoireValleyWine! Introduce yourself please! Where are your tweeting from? Share a link to your website!
- 805a Over the years the #Winophiles have written about the wines of the Loire. Is this region of France familiar or new to you? Share a link if you’ve written about it before or tell us about a favorite wine or place in the Garden of France.
- 810a The Loire Valley is known as a hot bed of #organic #biodynamic #naturalwinemaking but not all who practice are certified! Was it hard finding wine to fit our #EarthMonth theme? How did you get your wine? Is it certified? Did you go by the winery’s reputation? #Winophiles
- 815a At 625 miles, the Loire River is the longest in France, and so the wine region is divided into 3 parts: upper, middle, lower which are further defined by the wines grown there. What grapes are in your wine and where did they grow? #Winophiles
- 820a April is #EarthMonth and #EarthDay April 22 is coming up soon! Over 25% of wine in the Loire is organic. Tell us more about the #organic @LoireValleyWine you are featuring this month. Pictures? Link? #Winophiles
- 825a How did your pair your #organic @LoireValleyWine? Did you go traditional to the region or inspired by it? Was your food organic also? Link? Pictures? #Winophiles
- 830a According to UCLA’s recent research, #organic and #biodynamic certified wines score higher. Is buying organic food and wine important to you? Why? #Winophiles https://winepredator.com/2021/02/09/ucla-research-organic-biodynamic-wines-score-higher/
- 835a The soils in the Loire include a remarkable limestone called tuffeau that has been used for caves and dwellings. Is tuffeau or another element of the geology or geography important for the wine you are sharing today? #Winophiles
- 840a Did you know the Loire has over 325 castles? And that you can visit, taste wine, eat, and even stay in many of them? Have you been to the Loire? Visited a castle? Tell us more! #Winophiles
- 845a Did you know why the Loire is known as the Garden of France? Do you know why? Did you make any discoveries about the Loire that you want to share?
- 850a Do you have a favorite region, wine, grape, or winery in the Loire? Please share a link! #Winophiles
- 855a The Loire produces the most white wine in France, almost all of the Chenin Blanc, lots of Sauvignon Blanc, and in styles from sparkling to sweet. Will you celebrate #SauvBlancDay May 7 or #CheninBlancDay June 18 with one from the Loire? #Winophiles
Thank you for joining the #Winophiles chat on #organic @LoireValleyWine for #EarthMonth! On the third Saturday in May, join host @jillbarth for #Chablis.