I’m on a tour of the Loire with three Canadian friends. Wine agent Nicole Campbell, and Toronto sommeliers Krysta Oben and Lexi Wolkowski. We began in London, with a day of eating and drinking.
We began at Sager + Wilde on Hackney Road. Two wines, both of which hit the mark. The first was the remarkable La Reine Chardonnay from Domaine Labet in the Jura. This is a truly beautiful wine. Then we had the Beaujolais 2015 from Julie Balagny, which was really bright and juicy with some meatiness and a bit of feral character that fits right in. Very drinkable. We also had some nice food, including a full set of the Sager + Wilde toasted sandwiches, which are pretty epic.
Next stop was Noble Rot. So exciting to be back, and two lovely wines. The Vino di Sasso is brilliant: a Robolo from Cephalonia in Greece. So beautiful, from limestone soils. And the Trigone from Le Soula was fabulous: all bright and juicy with a dancing mass of red fruits.
Then out to dinner at Le Gavroche, hosted by Mark Walford of Le Soula. I didn’t know in advance that we were going to Le Gavroche, so I had to pop in to Uniqlo to buy a jacket and smart shirt, to meet the dress code. This is such an important restaurant for London: it opened in 1967, then became the first London restaurant to receive one, then two and then three Michelin stars (it lost the third in 1993).
Le Gavroche is old school, with lots of soft furnishings and a serene, stately feel. The food was excellent. We were given a quick kitchen tour with Michel Roux, who is charming and gracious (Mark is a regular here). The cooking was spot on, including an incredible cheese souffle (top right) that was perfectly executed. Gulls eggs on artichoke heart (top right) was a very interesting dish: it’s hard to get gulls eggs.
We drank well. Larmandier Bernier Champagne to start with, then Le Soula Blanc 2008 and Le Soula Rouge 2006, finishing off with Ghislaine Barthod’s Chambolle 2004, which was delicious and in a good place. I like the Le Soula wines a great deal. This was a perfect start to the trip.
Loire Valley Road Trip
- Beginning in London
- Preparing in Paris
- Joseph Mellot, Sancerre
- Clos de Tue Boeuf, Puzelat brothers, Cheverny
- Taille Aux Loups, Jacky Blot, Montlouis
- Vincent Carême, Vouvray
- Clau De Nell, Anjou
- Bernard Baudry, Chinon
- Mélaric, Saumur
- François Saint-Lô, Saumur
- Coulée de Serrant, Nicolas and Virginie Joly, Savennières
- Vincent Caillé, Muscadet
- The film