Having caviar every day also becomes common. The same goes for Bordeauxwine, so we, while at the Auchan in Bordeaux, opted for a red wine from the Loire-region.
There, in the cool climate of mid-France, they use the cabernet franc-grape to make red wines that taste like flint and woodland strawberries. You should drink them while they’re cool and because of their playful, fruity character they can accompany both meat and fish.


When, at dinnertime, we were back at the castle-table and opened the bottle the fruit blew out of it like a summer breeze.
The Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil 'Domaine Le Grollay' swirled carmine-red in to the glasses and enthusiastically embraced the grilled dorade; it was a full, but not too heavy wine, nice and juicy, with a lovely aftertaste. Light, because it has zero oak. A surprising success for £3.88

Reason enough to schedule a stop on the way back to The Netherlands at its producer.

Buying wine from the wineboer

Around Tours the landscape changes from green to cream-white. Castles, built out of limestone gotten from the very ground the castles stand on, rise out of the white earth.
We cross the Loire, a wide stream of cooling water for the ‘centrales nucleaires’,on the way to Domaine Le Grollay, just ouside of Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil.


First the wine, then the church. This is a prospering wine region, among other things due to this separation of main points and side points.
A ‘no bullshit-wine region’: they work hard, they don’t care about appearances and the good, but modest wines change hands for a healthy price.
In spite of the excellent quality they remained remarkably affordable, because of this appelations like Chinon and Bourgueil have had a stable market share, and have had for many years.


The sun is set low in the sky, giving the vineyards a golden glow. The sign says 'Jean Brecq vigneron'. In Bordeaux they are viticulteur or grape-cultivator; here on the other hand, in this rough no-nonsense wine region, you’re just a wine farmer. The gate is open, as is the door to a small office. There isn’t a soul to be found. 


Well, not a soul… this winemakers chicken was wandering around the barbecue with heedless contempt for death, but she didn’t seem willing to disclose the location of the boss’ quarters.


An in fluent French conveyed request for information from hastily approaching guardgeese, almost led to the loss of a finger.


Not a moment to soon madame Breq showed up. She was plastering, excused herself, while wiping the plaster off her hand and onto her red pair of trousers. She has a sweet face, like a blushing peach, with small, soft wrinkles round her eyes when she laughed.

'Un dégustation? Pas de problême!' She pushed open a door and we entered a tasting room. The messy room was totally covered in wallpaper with printed red bricks, there is an actual bar and set against a giant picture of a forest during autumn were a few agricultural tools which had long since passed in to a state of disarray.
As is usual in the Loireregion, the red wine comes from the fridge. While madame Brecq, Eline by now, uncorks the bottle, she tells us that domaine Le Grollay doesn’t work with an external oenologue but that she herself is responsible for the process of making the wine. Using books she taught herself to make wine. To also keep control over the technical aspects of the process she asked her husband Jean to build her a little labo. We can tag along.


Using daring graffiti of a grapevine, Eline has tried to give a rural character to the structure made out of chipboard. Patiently she explains us the basics of winemaking.


Inside it looks like a mix of a student kitchen and a girl’s room, but everything that is necessary is there.


From the look of the still present grapestems one can tell that vigneron Jean uses a machine to harvest. Not a single hired harvester is used; using some sort of monstrous machine that sucks the grapes from their stems and dumps them in a trailer which they drive to the winecellar (chai).


Here you won’t find a machine to remove the stems or a sorting table; everything goes directly in to the cuves. Oak barrels are seen as ‘too precious’ so Eline practices her oenology in cuves made out of cement.

As with her colleague Norguet is this chai not particularly hygienic, but despite of the philistine way of harvesting and process of vinification the winemade is exceptionally tasteful.
There you go, totally against all the trends and all (written and unwritten) wine-laws, mini-wineboer, and yet there there are, front row on the shelves in the biggest supermarket in France.


Elines obstinate winemakersfingers administrate la facture and for about 50 quid we can go home with 12 bottles of delicious homework.

Jean Brecq, Le grollay, 37140 Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, France
Tél. 02 47 97 78 54, Fax 02 47 97 78 54

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