Archive for April 24th, 2022

April 24, 2022

The wines of Burgundy !!

Once upon a time these were very popular in my cellar as time went on we tilt it towards other regions of my belle France. However, the memories are fine and precious, and I should have the wines of Burgundy in my blog, I will pick from an old post and expand it to tell you more about the wonderful vins de Bourgogne ! Of course, this will be in my black and white series, no pictures. And need to say, this is an introduction, the subject is heavy and long!! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

I have been drinking Burgundy wines since 1988 when I had the opportunity to meet  Pierre-Henri Gagey the President of Maison JadotBeaune (see post) who was stopping by for a tastings in Crown Wine Liquiors store in North Miami Beach Florida USA.  The store is no longer feature in the webpage ,but it does has one other I have visited in Coral Gables, this is the Crown Wine and Spirits webpage:  https://www.crownwineandspirits.com/store-locations/

The experience was so good that when came to France to meet what is now my wife in 1990, I took a ride by Beaune , with a previous request to see him at Maison Jadot, Beaune. He was not available but gave me his Sales Manager for Europe Marc Dupin to lead us into a wonderful tastings of the best of Jadot in their cellars at Beaune. The Maison Jadot wines webpage:   https://www.louisjadot.com/vins

I give them credit here, memories forever and thank you always.

You know wine is one of my favorite subjects even if do not write enough on it. It goes that you mention wine and you know love is in the air, especially around special dates.  It breaks away shyness and opens up the social spectrum in a controlled way, easy for conversations of a cultured person. Maybe many take it to an extreme that make people shy away from it, but it should not be that way. I have a certificate from SOPEXA, the French food and wine export organization in knowledge of French wines, and proven articles in different magazines such as Decanter, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiasts etc over the pond and ICEX Spain food and wine organization, the Gourmet Madrid group with base in Miami at Sunset Liquors, as well as here from the Boutin Gourmand former critic in France. However, I try to humanized it and keep it simple just to enjoy the wine that does not have to be expensive to be good.

Now to end the bragging,,,,,,,,excuse me, Let me tell you about the Burgundy wines, a bit,,,

The region is long and narrow, starting in the north with Chablis and Yonne and coming down thru Côte de Nuits, Côtes de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise, Maçonnais, long of 250 km all 28 715 hectares representing 6,5% of the French AOC wine production! 84 appellations areas or more than 200 million bottles!!! The main areas are Chablis and Grand Auxerrois, Côtes de Nuits, and Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Côtes de Beaune and Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Couchois, Macônnais, Châtillonnais, and Crémant de Bourgogne.

In addition to the main AOC areas, Burgundy is rich in wine regions of good wines too, Let me briefly tell them here :

The 13 geographical denominations complementary to the Burgundy appellation:

Burgundy Chitry / Burgundy Côte Chalonnaise / Burgundy Côtes d’Auxerre / Burgundy Côte d’Or / Burgundy Côtes du Couchois / Burgundy Côte Saint-Jacques / Burgundy Coulanges-la-Vineuse / Burgundy Épineuil / Burgundy Hautes Côtes de Beaune / Burgundy Hautes Côtes de Nights / Burgundy La Chapelle Notre-Dame / Burgundy Montrecul or Montre-Cul or En Montre-Cul / Burgundy Tonnerre.

The 27 complementary geographical names of the Mâcon appellation:

Azé / Bray / Burgy / Bussières / Chaintré / Chardonnay / Charnay-Lès-Mâcon / Cruzille / Davayé / Fuissé / Igé / Lugny / Loché / Mancey / Milly-Lamartine / Montbellet / Péronne / Pierreclos / Prissé / La Roche-Serrières / Solutré-Pouilly / Saint-Gengoux-le-National / Uchizy / Vergisson / Verzé / Vinzelles.

The Premiers Crus which are additional geographical denominations mentioned in the specifications of certain village appellations. There are also complementary geographical denominations in two Grands Crus: Chablis Grand Cru and Corton.

The principals grapes are the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Gamay, Aligoté, Pinot Gris, César, Sacy, and Melon de Bourgogne.  They produce reds, whites, rosés, and crémants or sparkling wines, The main thing as anywhere is to know who the producter is, if they do their wines well the area is not important and of course the quality/price ratio.  And I had the opportunity to drink very expensive good wines and very inexpensive good wines and vice versa over my life.

The towns for touristic reference as well as the wines, tops are: -Montrachet, Santenay, and Beaune , Chambertin, Morey Saint Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot Vosne-Romanée, Nuits Saint Georges , Aloxe-Corton, Savigny, Pommard, Meursault, Chassagne. Also, Givry, Buxy, Mercurey, and Pouilly-Fuissé.

The official Burgundy wines: http://www.bourgogne-wines.com/

The Beaune tourist office on wines visits/tastings,,, : https://www.beaune-tourism.com/tasting

The memorable Côte Chalonnaise wines : https://www.achalon.com/a-voir-a-faire/oenotourisme

The Burgundy France Comte region tourist office on wines of Burgundy : https://www.burgundy-tourism.com/discover-burgundy/vines-and-vineyards-of-burgundy/burgundy-wines-for-dummies/

Anecdotes ! In Autour de la Lune, an anticipation novel by Jules Verne, three men want to explore the lunar star. To achieve their goal, they take place inside a giant shell, fired by a gigantic cannon. This extraordinary space vehicle takes astronauts to the Moon. As they near the end of their journey, they celebrate their success by uncorking…a bottle of Vin de Nuits! It is in memory of this passage that the Apollo 11 Mission (1969), led by Neil Armstrong, took and left on the Moon a label of Nuits-Saint-Georges wine.

And festivals not to miss when coming to Burgundy, my favorites are :

The Saint-Vincent tournante; it is the feast of the patron saint of winegrowers, it takes place the last weekend of January for the great Saint-Vincent revolving in Burgundy, with tastings of wines from the appellation in several places in the village concerned,

The sale of wines from the Hospices of Beaune . Internationally renowned, it takes place on the 3rd weekend of November. This is a traditional charity auction of Burgundy wines, the most famous in the world, and traditionally serves as an international barometer of the prestige wine market,

The sale of wines from the Hospices of Nuits-Saint-Georges happens towards the end of March. It is the same procedure as that of the Hospices de Beaune.

The Le Concours national des vins de Mâcon et le Salon des vins de Mâcon or the Mâcon National Wine Competition and the Mâcon Wine Fair. They take place in April. This competition leads to the awarding of medals for the best wines from all French wine regions.

La Paulée de la Côte Chalonnaise in Chalon-sur-Saône which takes place around mid-October. The wines are tasted in the streets of Chalon-sur-Saône for a whole weekend with, on Saturday evening, a big meal to celebrate the end of the harvest (known as La paulée).

Bourgogne or Burgundy or Borgoña is a region to be reckoned with and one that has also tried to be copy ,adapted ,adjust all over the world ;but Burgundy rest unique, you can’t replace the terroir !! Hope you enjoy the post and give you the force to find out more about Burgundy wines of France.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

April 24, 2022

The Vignobles Marchais !!!!

The Wines of the Marchais family of Thouaré sur Loire. We look them up in a previous wine fair in Guérande (see post) and decided their ideas were worth a follow up on site. Great experience, recommended to all wine lovers. Part of our little vacations trying to continue life aftet the loss of my dear wife Martine. I have been coming and going to the Vignobles Marchais ever since. There are in the La Blandiniére hamlet in the town of Thouare-sur-Loire, and it has been a pleasant find. We first met at the village vignerons festival of Guérande (see posts).

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Thouaré sur Loire is in the department 44 Loire Atlantique south of me in the region of Pays de la Loire. Historically part of Brittany … and only 10 km from Nantes. And about 2 hrs by car from my house. What is to see here well there is a nice Church of Saint Vincent, (see post) and the castles of  Picauderie built in 1773, that of Thouaré from the 10C but profoundly restored in the 19C and finally the closest we saw was the  Hilliére  overlooking the Loire river in the Neo Classical style. Built in the 14C with a beautiful Chapel of the Virgin that was taken from the Chapel of Auray.

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However, what we came to see here was wines of the Loire, muscadet  Sévre et Marne sur lie, (see post) ,the very best of its field,and the only vineyards in the limits of the town. This is a family effort started in 1947 by the father and today continue with the son Philippe and older brother and the help of all the family and some local and far winegrowers who have invested in a beautiful cellars and property.  We were helped directly by Cynthia a very nice helpful lady. The propery vignobles Marchais.

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The idea here is to come in and stay one night in a huge wine barrel made lodging with bedding, another barrel acts as a bathroom and showers and more bathrooms are allowed inside the cellar house. We spent the night and it was a fantastic experience ,and recommended by all. We arrived the night before, and got a lesson in winemaking of the local grapes such as the melon de bourgogne (for the muscadet) but also pinot gris and the fact that they can do other grapes not from the AOC/AOP such as Chardonnay. The presentation included discussion on the stone ground composition on the three areas they own vineyards and how it is grown. They have about 30 hectares in total and exports about 200K bottles including the partners growers some family members from other wine regions of France. Great experience !

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We were welcome with tasting of 3-4 bottles in the cellar house ,and from there shown our bedroom a wine barrel made into a bedroom.  We did good and ample space. The next day we had a wonderful breakfast served on a picnic area of the cellars with plenty of pain au chocolat, croissants, orange juice, coffee, jellies, baguette ,butter, and water. We then did our purchases in the store ,not obligatory but we love these wines. Especially the sparklers rosé and white perles lutines and the parasol rose from old grapes before phylloxera call the 54 dating from the 1800’s.  Also, the great Berligou grapes red wine that was a gift from Charles the fearless duke of Burgundy to his cousin François II duke of Brittany, The welcome was perfect and again this is what France is all about come direct to the grower and feel the bounties of the land and the history of the regions. They do events, and even picnics, tents, a warm up cooking area for onsite meals for groups , etc and business conference rooms on site. The food chosen is paired with the wines recommended or your own.

This time was to celebrate the harvest the next day and did a vineyards festival or fête des Vendanges in their property , very nice. We were only a small group of 13 which was ideal. We arrive punctual at 11h while they were getting ready to host a wedding at 15h lol! Our event started shortly after the owner Philippe Marchais arrived. He is trying to export more and I am helping out with some information on the USA market. First, was a brief explanation on the terroir, Philippe is a firm believer in this , and so am I. All sort of information on the land and stones on the soil was given in a brief format. The stones here have lots of schist. We went on to the vineyards!

Well it was a harvest time, so we were the first one to pick up grapes of the Melon of Burgundy (melon de Bourgogne) great to be able to use our cutter and get the nice chunks of grapes off into a bucket first and then a huge wooden cart!!! Very nice and on a friendly fun group of people. Once we finish , we came in to the chai or cellars to taste the grapes and determine their acidity, taste, and aromas as well as the maturity of them. We try three different plot of land from same grape and all taste and smell different, that is the terroir !!! After, of course, we taste the real wines from the previous year, and were nicely impressed with the Grand Clos du moulin de Pé muscadet of course. And the refreshing Domaine de Bois Biot white. This was accompagny by salmon and sardines cold meat or paté, terrines, and pork paté from Brittany! Very liberal serving and nice conversation around my favorite subject !!

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We were surprise by  a visit from a radio chain France Bleu and the owner Philippe was interviewed right in front of us. I was one of the ones chosen to be spoken to and hopefully will be on the air soon!!!  All during the interview , we were at the table and then we all join the visitor for a chat on wines and good food of the Loire, and the Nantes vineyards! The food oh my God, all down with a find a nice surprise wine Egiodola red wine a grape originally from the Basque country but now planted here and producing a fruity pleasant red wine with lots of blackberry !! delicious we purchase a carton of  6 bottles! We, also, got 4 bottles of cider for free!!! We indeed continue chatting with the owner and his wife Violette that joined us at the table sitting next to me so lots of conversation. For info, that is me above cutting the grapes harvest time!!!

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They have a very nice building; the basement is the production site for bottling about 200K bottles of their own production. The street level is the cellar, tastings and boutique, and the first floor (2nd US) is a reception area (where the wedding was held) also good for business meetings and other events, all hook up with video equipment and large screens. The have about 9 persons working mostly family members. What they do is they have other families cousins etc who are also winemakers in other regions of France. They bring their wines to the cellar boutique and sells them ,so therefore we purchase a Morgon from the Beaujolais, and two Margaux from Bordeaux region from 2011 at good prices,not a good vintage year but the producers are guaranteed good and that is the main point here.

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They ,also, have a Bar à Vin and dinners are arrange in addition to many other activities throughtout the year, check their webpage. The wine tastings are done here . The region and best bottles in my opinion are Thouaré sur Loire on the Muscadet Côteaux de la Loire with vignobles de Thouaré , and coteaux d’Ancenis Malvoisie. The area of Loroux-Bottereau on the Muscadets-Sèvre-et-Maine with the Perle Lutines noir and blanc ,Rosé parasol parapluie , and the star the Grand Clos du Moulin du Pé. Also, the Mauves-sur-Loire area with the Domaine du Blois Blot ,and Champtoceaux.  They have many other offers even a day in the vineyards and wine tastings. Very much into the wine and big investment to satisfy all comers; all are welcome, and again, I really do not write much about properties we go but on some we make an exception for the value/quality ratio and the warm welcome.

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To have dinner, for our last day, we asked for recommendation but unfortunanely the resto was closed for personal reasons, and searching for others were closed as we left the tastings late ::) So I pull out my old reliable, a Novotel four star hotel in nearby town of Carquefou. And we call from the car, made the reservation on the run and voilà they were open ,of course. A delicious file mignon steak with mashed potatoes for me with abricot in peanut butter and vanilla ice cream dessert and a bottle of Alsace Pinot Noir red from the Klipfer family for a change of pace, all for 25€ per person.  The hotel restaurant Novotel Carquefou :https://all.accor.com/hotel/0410/index.en.shtml

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The official Vignobles Marchaishttps://www.vignoblemarchais.fr/

The Vineyards of Nantes tourist officehttps://www.visitnantesvineyard.com/ 

In all, it was a wonderful experience. Enjoy it nothing better than a good wine and if French much better, simply the best! The Vignobles Marchais are now one of our favorite, because the wines are good, the prices are good, and the people are excellent! Hope you enjoy the post and come on over anytime folks,

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

April 24, 2022

The Nantaise wines or Muscadet !!!

Ok let’s talk wine again! If you have been reading my blog you know my love for wines went back to my first sip from my maternal grandmother at age 8! It’s a tradition in our house ever since and into marriage and family life it continues. Today with so much to do and see in my belle France sometimes we skip trips to the wineries ;however, in my vacation time we took it to see one not far from Nantes in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 region of Pays de la Loire.

The vineyards are the home of the Melon de Bourgogne or simply melon and gives a minerally flavored white wine known as the Muscadet or higher up we have the Muscadet Sévre et Maine sur lie. However, there are other wines  as the AOP region (Appellation d’Origine Protegée by EU standards that in France is same as AOC appellation d’origine controllée) can be broken down into parcels outside the appellation where the growers can choose other grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir , etc. These of course are not AOP wines but just as good indeed if looking at the right producer=winemaker.

Let me tell you briefly about this region and wine appellation Pays Nantaise.

The region is located in the departments of the Loire-Atlantique (44), the Vendée (85) and the Maine-et-Loire (49). A single IGP (Iindication Géographique Protégée more at EU level) wine appellation, the Val de Loire.  The vines are planted on shale, granitic and silty soils. The main grape varieties that make up the vineyard are for red wine, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Négrette. For white wine, Melon de Bourgogne, Chenin and Sauvignon.  The list of wine region within this AOC are Coteaux Ancenis, fiefs Vendéens, Gros Plant du pays Nantes, Muscadet, Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire, Côtes de Grandlieu, and Muscadet Sévre and Maine.

The Nantes tourist office on the vineyard :https://www.levoyageanantes.fr/en/itineraries/the-journey-in-the-vineyard/

The local vineyards of Nantes with winegrowershttp://www.lesvignesdenantes.com/association-les-vignes-de-nantes/

The Muscadet on the wines of Nantes with winegrower/makershttps://www.muscadet.fr/en/vins-de-nantes/vineyard-index/

The property we visited was our introduction to this region and wines, It was the Poiron Dabin in near town of Chateau Thebaud village of Chantegrolle. Why this property? Well we like to go to places already spoken with the owner either by telephone , email, or in fairs , city tastings promotions etc. Once I realized the property has potential to like it , the personality, the winemakers, and the wines, then we proceed to a formal visit to the property itself. We came to know Poiron Dabin by attending the wine event Village Vignerons in Guérande a while back (see post); and by speaking with Cynthia and JP we realized these were real wine aficionados who love to tell their trade and wines to all; the wines were very good and a great price/quality ratio.

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Once past that stage, we proceed in making reservation for a visit to the property. This we did arriving early morning as agreed and all was ready with a nice welcome tasting of four bottles from sparklers to pinot noir wines. We proceeded to given a booklet map and go walking in the vineyards!!! This was fun we did about 3 kms or 1.8 miles of vineyards of Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Tannat, Melon de Bourgogne, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc fields and fields about 70 hectares or 173 acres! The best was that on several posts along the route you needed to find the bottle! lol! This was great you find the bottle , you drink it, (we carry cups, corkscrew, etc all provided for). The walk seems like heavens as we seriously search for more posts with wine bottles !!! It was a huge field with a horse farm in the middle of it all, but we were able to find 6 out of 8 bottles; not bad for amateur walkers in the sun at 25C or 77F.

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Oh yes the walk is divided into two parts one in the morning and another in the afternoon, with a break for lunch .Oooh did I said Lunch ! wow this was superbe, on our way back we call to let the organizer of the walk know we are close by and she had already all prepared. A huge picnic basket full of cheeses, small tomatoes, cold cuts including pate de champagne delicious ,and baguette breads as well as fruit yogurt like strawberry, framboise etc and of course accompany by the house wines from Pinot Noir, to Muscadet ,Chardonnay and a sparkler brut rose as well ,ending with Maxwell House coffee, bread and butter or tea!!  You are ready all of this plus the tasting, and the supplies of the walk for 30€ per person (now 35€ still worth it), we thought this was a thrill and will surely be back. English and Spanish is spoken too !

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This trip is explained further in only French at Poiron-Dabinhttp://www.poiron-dabin.com/fr/oenotourisme/activites-sur-place/

The vineyards of Poiron Dabin  produces about 600K bottles per year!  They  do  Melon de BourgogneChardonnayPinot GrisPinot Noir, Fié GrisCôt Malbec, and Berligou,  a historical red variety from Britanny  ( great red a gift of the  duke of Burgundy Charles le Téméraire or Bold to his cousin the François II duke of Brittany in 1460,  petit Manseng,  and rich Gewurztraminer.

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The vineyards of Poiron Dabinhttp://www.poiron-dabin.com/en/home/

In all, it was a wonderful day in the vineyards as usual in my belle France or rather beautiful Loire Valley, in the coastal Pays de la Loire (not to be confused with the castle known Centre-Val de Loire region more inland). And of course, this is in old Bretagne ! Of course, we are regular buyers and have come back several times since. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

Enjoy the post and En Vino Veritas.  And Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

April 24, 2022

The wines of Muscadet !!!

We were in another world, in wine country of the Loire! The wines of muscadet are less known me think  unfortunately they deserve more credit. I will do my five cents here. It covers a large area and amazingly, not only are the muscadet grapes allowed but others too. This area is less than 2 hours drive from my house so I have been a lot ,just hard to pick areas to show you in my belle France we are loaded ! I like to update this wonderful old post for you and me, and hope you enjoy it as I. Of course, this will be on my black and white series,no pictures.

The Muscadet is a dry white wine of AOC (appellation d’Origine Controllée) mainly in the Loire-Atlantique dept 44, south of Nantes, and partially overflowing on the Maine-et-Loire dept 49 and the Vendée dept 85 ,all in Pays de la Loire region. This wine from the Loire Valley vineyards comes from a unique grape variety, the melon of Burgundy (Melon de Bourgogne) . This appellation has been classified AOC since 1936.  The Muscadet vineyards has several appellations: the Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine, the Muscadet -côtes-de-Grandlieu, the Muscadet-coteaux-de-la-Loire and the Muscadet without any particular denomination.

A bit of history I like

In 1635, the word ,Muscadet is attested in another document from the village of Gorges for the first time. It is claimed that this grape, now known as the Melon of Burgundy because of its origin, would have better resisted the terrible winter of 1709 than the other grape varieties including the Gros Plant and that, as a result, it would then become widespread in the countryside of Nantes

The late 19C saw the affluent vineyard (Muscadet and Gros-Plant) touched by the phylloxera like most of the French vineyards. This aphid accidentally imported from America in 1864 bites the roots of the vine and causes the death of the plant. At this time the melon of Burgundy (Muscadet) will impose itself as a majority grape in the vineyards of Nantes.  This vineyard in AOC comprises 13 000 hectares, exclusively used in white wine. It is located mainly in the southern part of the Loire-Atlantique, and in some towns of Vendée and Maine-et-Loire. The Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine appellation is the most notable and most productive of the Muscadet vineyards, generating just over two-thirds of the total production of Muscadet. It takes its name from the two rivers, the Sèvre and  Maine which water this territory forming essentially the Nantes vineyard.

It is comprise as such with only my favorite towns as they are many: The Muscadet-Sévre-et-Maine denomination :In the  Loire-Atlantique department 44  are: Basse-GoulaineChateau-ThébaudClisson, Haute-Goulaine, Loroux-Bottereau, Mouzillon, Pallet, Saint-Friacre-sur-Maine, Saint-Julien-de-Concelles, Saint-Lumine-de-Clisson, Vallet, and Vertou. As well as two towns in Maine-et-Loire department 49: Saint-Crespin-sur-Monk and Tillières. 

The Muscadet-Côtes-de-Grandlieu: this vineyard derives its originality from the microclimate of Lake Grandlieu. It is in 17 towns of the Loire-Atlantique dept 44 such as   Bouguenais, Port-Saint-Pere, Saint-Aignan-de-Grand-place, Saint-ColombanSaint-Léger-les-VignesSaint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu, and Touvois. As well as two towns in the Vendée dept 85 such as Rocheservière ,and Saint-Philbert-de-Bouaine.

The Muscadet-Coteaux-de-la-Loire is in the Loire-Atlantique dept 44 again my favorites are only in Ancenis, Mauves-sur-LoireSaint-Sébastien-sur-Loire, Thouaré-sur-Loire  as well as in Maine-et-Loire dept 49 such as my favorites only Bouzillé, Champtoceaux, La Chapelle-Saint-Florent, and La Varenne.

The Muscadet without denomination or simply Muscadet on the bottle is in several towns but this is the lowest denomination which we never drank, In the Loire Atlantique dept 44 ,however, my favorites towns are AncenisBasse-Goulaine, Carquefou, La Chapelle-Heulin, Château-Thebaud, Clisson, Haute-Goulaine, Ligné, Le Loroux-BottereauMauves-sur-Loire, Le Pallet, Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine, Saint-Aignan-Grandlieu, Saint –ColombanSaint-Hillaire-de-ClissonSaint-Léger-les-Vignes, and Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu. And these towns from Maine-et-Loire dept 49 such as Champtoceaux, La Chapelle-Saint-Florent, Liré, Saint-Florent-le-Veil, and La Varenne. Also, from the Vendée dept 85 we have Saint-Hillaire-de-Loulay.

Some of the other grapes you may find wines here are the Folle Blanche, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Grolleau, Negrette. As well as some more genuinely planted here for historical reasons such as the Berligou (from duke of burgundy to duke of brittany gift), Egiodola, etc.

The official Association of Vignobles Nantais wineshttp://www.vignoble-nantais.eu/accueil/

The Vineyards of Nantes tourist officehttps://www.visitnantesvineyard.com/

There you go folks, another dandy of my belle France! Wonderful wines indeed especially with fish/seafood awesome!! Hope you enjoy it and find the Muscadet wines of the Nantaise!! And remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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